Attorney general quits
A nearly year-long saga that began with the arrest of former Turks and Caicos Islands Premier Michael Misick in Rio de Janeiro came to a close Tuesday as the Brazilian courts agreed to extradite Misick back to his homeland.
Misick, along with about a dozen other people, faces various allegations in relation to corruption and maladministration during his government’s time in office.
Those criminal investigations forced the United Kingdom to implement direct rule over its Caribbean overseas territory from 2009 until local elections were held in November 2012, returning local governance to the people of the islands.
“Michael Misick’s lawyers vigorously opposed his extradition, but after hearing arguments …the court was unanimous in its decision,” a statement issued by Attorney General Huw Shepheard said. “Arrangements will be made to return him to the Turks and Caicos Islands as soon as possible.
“He faces trial in the TCI Supreme Court on a number of serious charges related to corruption and maladministration in the TCI during his time in office.”
On Wednesday – the day after Mr. Misick’s extradition order came through – Mr. Shepheard announced that he would be leaving his post Friday and filing “legal charges” against the Turks and Caicos government for damage to his reputation.
Mr. Shepheard, whose contract had just been extended until 2016, did not specify the nature of the charges he was filing. The attorney general had been spearheading the effort to return the former premier to the islands to face trial.
Four members of the former Turks and Caicos Islands Cabinet are among the 13 charged in a criminal corruption probe conducted by U.K. government representatives in the British overseas territory. Arrest warrants were issued last November by the Turks Special Investigation and Prosecution Team for ex-Premier Misick and developer Kem Cinay, according to a statement from Turks Governor Ric Todd.
“It is clear that the focus is now on the prosecution phase.” Mr. Todd said. “Nevertheless, there will be no let up in the prosecution of those who have been indicted and of any further accused who may be charged with offenses investigated by the [special prosecution team].”
In addition to the criminal charges, U.K. government representatives said 2,462 acres of crown land have been recovered and various financial settlements for the land have been received.
According to the U.K. foreign office, the British government has spent around US$19 million in grants during the past three fiscal years in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The grants covered some costs of the special investigations, civil recovery work and support for the local police force.
Additional costs paid by the U.K. government included more than US$1 million to set up “a suitable courtroom for the trials, which will be held as a result of the investigation.”