Like the true warrior who refuses to surrender, former FIFA vice President Austin Jack Warner continues to defy international law by fighting his extradition to the United States to answer corruption charges, even after London’s Privy Council ruled that the extradition proceedings here are not unlawful.
The former football administrator, businessman and politician also defended the decision by football’s world governing body FIFA, to give preference to South Africa, Russia and Qatar to host World Cup Finals. The award of the 2018 World Cup Final to Russia was among the issues at the center of corruption allegations against the 79-year-old Warner who is facing 12 charges of wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering
The British Privy Council Building
Earlier in the day, the Privy Council, Trinidad and Tobago’s highest court of appeal dismissed Warner’s lawyers’ contention that the extradition proceedings in the magistrate’s court here were unlawful, thus paving the way for the matter to resume.
In continuing to fight against extradition, the Trinidad and Tobago boy who rose from humble rural surroundings to hold the send highest position as one of FIFA’s Vice Presidents, joins ranks with a number of other famous individuals including
Wikileaks founder Julian Asange
Joaquin “el Chapo” Guzman
In a statement issued after the decision of the British Law Lords was handed down, Warner said he would continue to challenge the legality of the proposed extradition.
“I continue to have confidence in my team led by Fyard Hosein Senior Counsel, and I have advised them to continue to press my case on the three remaining stages of these proceedings. I have lived in this country for nearly eighty years, and I am confident that I will continue to receive the love, affection, and respect that people from all walks of life have always extended to me. I am certain I will prevail in the end,” Warner said.
Warner, a former FIFA vice-president, is accused of 12 charges related to fraud, racketeering and engaging in illegal wire transfers.
The offenses are alleged to have taken place in the United States, T&T and other jurisdictions between 1990 and June 2011 when Warner quit FIFA.
He is one of several senior executives of world football’s governing body who were indicted on a series of charges after an investigation into corruption in football, conducted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ).
Several of his former colleagues have pleaded guilty to the charges and have been sentenced. Warner’s boss, former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, was acquitted of fraud in July, 2022 – That verdict became the subject of an appeal.
For some observers, Warner’s stance is somewhat surprising in light of the many options they feel he has available to take refuge in a number of countries which do not have extradition proceedings with the USA and UK and where he would have made a great deal of friends in Football over the years.
The answers may lie in an article in Two Hundred Percent titled Jack Warner: (Still) At Large by Mark on September 1, 2020 which noted that:
“Though Warner has successfully avoided extradition, where most others have failed, this has had far less to do with his innocence than claiming kinks in extradition law. Warner has argued that Trinidad’s Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act, is at odds with its extradition treaty with the US, as “in passing the Act,” Trinidad’s parliament “afforded citizens certain protections which are ignored by the international treaty.”
The Red House. Headquarters of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament
In June 2017, Warner’s application for a judicial review of his extradition proceedings was heard. Warner’s legal team identified five “non-conformities” between the two legislations. But he was especially exercised by the possibility that, once in America, he could be charged with other offenses which, in themselves, were not extraditable. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions about the possibility that the old twister definitely committed such offenses.
Warner also had procedural complaints about the Trinidad Attorney-General’s office’s obtaining of the “Authority to Proceed” (ATP) with the extradition process, back in May 2015. Warner’s attorneys complained at not having the right to comment before the ATP was granted. But they did and refused for reasons which even presiding Judge Justice James Aboud found “difficult to understand.”
According to Two Hundred Percent: ‘As we noted then, Aboud “was decisively dismissive” of Warner’s case, which “described ‘the US judicial system as if it were intrinsically brutish, conniving, and ungoverned by the rule of law.”
Aboud was “sufficiently persuaded” that it didn’t “act capriciously.” Nor did he “consider” that it would “go rogue and act outside of its well-developed doctrines of the rule of law”
With these new developments, it seems that- at least for the short term future – Jack Warner who straddled the highest positions in FIFA Football and the Trinidad and Tobago government, will be flying safely above the snapping jaws of the American authorities waiting patiently to grab him into their Extradition Treaty trap.
Until then therefore, Jack is the Man!