By Saju Ng’alla
Noel “Zambo” Heath and Glenroy “Bob” Matthew were placed on an aircraft at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday and extradited to the United States.
Dr. Henry Browne, lead defense counsel for the two men, said no one from the Government had contacted him about the decision to extradite the two men.
“Someone called me and told me and I rushed to the airport,” Browne said. “They did not tell me anything.
“I was too late.”
Browne said by the time he reached the airport Heath and Matthew were gone.
“I do not like it,” Browne said. “This was illegal and this will not be the end of it,” Browne said.
Also at the airport was Karen Matthew, Glenroy’s wife.
“I never got to see him,” Karen said with tears running down her face. “A friend called me and told me to come the airport. When I got there he was already gone. I never got to say goodbye.”
Up to press time the Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Harris had yet to make an announcement on whether Heath and Matthew would be extradited to the United States.
“This was not right,” Browne kept repeating. “What was I suppose to do. What could I have done. Nobody told me anything.
“Nobody told me anything.”
The U.S. Government alleged that the two men participated in a conspiracy to import and supply illegal drugs into the U.S.
Heath allegedly committed the crime in 1992 and Matthew in 1994.
Browne said with the two men no longer on the island, there is little he can do.
“What am I suppose to do? I can’t go to court because they are gone. I am no fool. They are gone,” Browne said.
According to a court ruling Minister Harris was to make a decision on whether Heath and Matthew should be extradited by Thursday.
However, when The Observer contacted Browne at about 6 p.m. Thursday, he said he was tired of waiting.
“I just sent home my staff and I am going home,” Browne said at that time. “I can’t wait any longer.
“Their family is in torture waiting on the government to make the announcement. This is not a good sign,” Browne said at that time
Browne had sent a written request, and also met with Minister Harris, to convince the minister not to approve the extradition of Heath and Matthew to the United States.
“I know this government and that was not a good sign,” Browne said. “No one has contacted me. These fellas are just playing around.”
Browne said the Government should have contacted him during the working hours of the day on the decision.
“Am I suppose to wait in my office until midnight? What about the family?” Browne asked. “That was not a good sign at all.”
Heath and Matthew should not have been extradited because the Government has a duty to protect citizens of the Federation from having their constitutional rights violated, Browne had said in his written request to the minister.
“The rational conclusion is not extradition and a trial in the United States of America, but rather a trial in St. Kitts and Nevis where the wrongful conduct allegedly took place,” Browne had written.
The alleged crimes took place while both men were in St. Kitts, Browne said.
Browne stated in the request that the extradition of the two men was based on drug enforcement laws of the U.S. that extend beyond territorial boundaries of the U.S., where the object of the illegal activity is to bring drugs into the United States.
However, Browne said the Federation has similar legislation, governing the importation of drugs into the Federation and exportation of drugs out of the Federation.
Browne argued since the Federation can prosecute Heath and Matthew there is no reason why the two men’s constitutional rights should be violated.
Browne quoted the constitution as saying, “A person shall not be deprived of his freedom of movement, that is to say, the right to move freely throughout Saint Christopher and Nevis, the right to reside in any part of Saint Christopher and Nevis, the right to leave Saint Christopher and Nevis and immunity from expulsion from Saint Christopher and Nevis.”
Browne said the argument that it would be more convenient to prosecute the two men in America does not justify violating their constitutional rights. Especially since, Browne said, the alleged crimes took place more than 10 years ago.
Heath and Matthew have argued that it would be unjust and contrary to fundamental justice to surrender them to the U.S., since the alleged offences happened so long ago.
Heath offences were allegedly committed between June 15 and July 15, 1992. Matthew’s offences between Aug. 1 and Oct. 13, 1994.
“It is further submitted that after the length of time that has elapsed Heath and matthew cannot deal with the matters raised against them or adduce the evidence to deal with them,” Browne said. “In short they will be prejudiced in the presentation of their respective but different cases by the delay which has taken place.”
Heath and Matthew, because of the elapsed time, would not be able to mount and adequate defense, Browne said. He further pointed out that witnesses and evidence would be hard to locate due to the passage of time.
“Of both, none of their witnesses reside in the United States of America,” Browne said. “They are therefore for the purpose of this case not compelled by the United States court.”
Browne said they would further be prejudiced because of the notoriety that covers the two men, when President Bill Clinton in 1992 labeled the two men as “drug King Pins.”
Such publicity would amount to contempt of court in the Federation, Browne said.
“They will not have or may not have a fair trial,” Browne said.