BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 8, 2018– News broke last week that the United States Government has issued an extradition request to the Belize Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Belizean attorney Andrew Bennett, who has been indicted in the US territory of Puerto Rico on 7 counts of money laundering and for whom an arrest warrant has been issued in that territory since 2015.
Reporters caught up with Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte today and inquired about the status of the US extradition request.
Peyrefitte confirmed that his ministry, which will prosecute the extradition request on behalf of the US Government, has not received the necessary paperwork for the process to go forward.
“I know for sure that the Sol Gen [Solicitor General] has prepared the necessary documents. Those have been sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. And it is the Minister of Foreign Affairs who sets the matter in motion; once he signs the necessary papers, we then apply to the Magistrate for various steps to be taken. We have not received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs any documentation for us to bring to the Magistracy as of 8 o’clock this morning,” said Peyrefitte.
Andrew Bennett, who was employed at the law firm of Glenn D. Godfrey, has been accused by a US Drug Enforcement Agent of laundering money in a sting operation. This is the first effort of the US Government at nabbing a so-called white-collar criminal from Belize.
Bennett has not made any comment to the media on the extradition request.
After he is arrested and arraigned in the Belize City Magistrate’s Court on the extradition request, he cannot be granted bail by the Magistrate’s Court. He would have to apply to the Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus, which would determine if he has been imprisoned lawfully.
Since Bennett has been the subject of a US sting operation, it will have to be determined by the courts in Belize if that method that the US used is lawful under Belize laws and if it is in conformity with the Belize/US Extradition Treaty of 2000.