PORT OF SPAIN –– United States authorities are one small step closer to getting their hands on former FIFA vice-president Austin “Jack” Warner.
However, the embattled former CONCACAF boss and Trinidad and Tobago parliamentarian doesn’t intend to make it an easy job for Uncle Sam.
Warner appeared in court today and was informed that Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi had signed the documents to allow the extradition case against him to proceed. The US wants to try Warner, 72, on corruption charges. He is accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes.
However, Warner’s attorneys are challenging the decision, stating that Al-Rawi missed the September 16 date for signing off on the documents, and as a result, Warner should be discharged.
Warner was taken before Eight Court Deputy Chief Magistrate Mark Wellington, who heard the arguments.
Last Friday, Al-Rawi fired several of the attorneys who were part of the State’s team, including senior counsel Israel Khan, Gerald Ramdeen, Jagdeo Singh and Wayne Sturge.
Warner is one of 14 people indicted on a series of criminal charges in the United States, including racketeering, fraud, and money laundering, related to their time at FIFA.
The court was told that the Authority to Proceed (ATP) documents had been signed, but Warner’s lead attorney Fyard Hosein said that the deadline date for signing the documents was September 16 and the Attorney General had missed the date.
As a result, said Hosein, the Court had the right to discharge Warner.
However, Lewis countered that the documents were now signed, making way for the extradition matter to proceed and there should be no discharge.
Magistrate Wellington asked for time to go through the documents and adjourned the case until this Friday.
As the head of CONCACAF, Warner was once one of the most powerful men in world football. His support was seen as essential for any World Cup host bid.
However, he has been dogged by allegations of corruption. The US alleges that Warner has been involved in corrupt practices for over two decades.
In June 2015, a BBC investigation found evidence of bribes paid to Warner.