Volume No. 2 Issue No. 62 - Monday, December 15, 2008|
One of America’s most wanted fugitive scheduled for court appearance
Netherlands Antilles Daily Herald
PHILIPSBURG--The Court on Thursday “did not see the necessity” for collecting statements from more witnesses for the extradition hearing of suspected U.S. killer Michael Jason Registe, and decided that the young man should wait another twelve days for its decision.
Jason Registe of Dominican parents is on the FBI's list of 10 most wanted.
The Joint Court of the Netherlands Antilles will rule on Tuesday, December 23, on whether Registe will go back to the United States to stand trial on charges of double homicide in 2007 and assault in 2005.
Attorney-at-law Remco Stomp told reporters after the hearing that he was willing to fight the young man’s extradition as far as The Hague in the event the courts ruled in favour of the U.S. Federal Government.
Stomp wanted to hear Chef de Poste of the Prosecutor’s Office in the Windward Islands Taco Stein and former Prosecutor Dikran Sarian, who returned to the Netherlands in September, as witnesses in Registe’s case.
Stomp alleged the man’s August 27 arrest here might have been illegal and suggested that U.S. authorities had dipped an unauthorised hand into the local jurisdiction. But the three judges threw out his motion after about seven minutes’ deliberation, saying that there was no reason for more statements.
“The court does not see the necessity to hear the witnesses,” a translator told Registe in English, sending his family into mournful silence. Registe’s hearing had been postponed from October 30.
Registe’s father, Philip, who had been reading from a Bible in his briefcase since the opening statements, shut the case and pressed his hand against his head when judges said they would not hear more witnesses. He had been reading Psalms up to that point.
Marcia Registe stopped the murmuring that almost had her thrown out of the courtroom and watched in a hush. Originally from Dominica, Registe’s parents, who flew in from Georgia, were among the 11 witnesses – three reporters and six observers and family – at the hearing.
The suspect half-smiled as he entered the courtroom and saw family, as three armed A(rrest) Team officers escorted him to his seat.
The U.S. citizen was arrested almost four months ago at Lake’s Guesthouse on A.Th. Illidge Road after tips to the local police pointed to him as one of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FCI”S) “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives.
A July 26 episode of Fox TV series “America’s Most Wanted” featured Registe the day he joined wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden and suspected serial killer James “Whitley” Bugler Jr. on the list with a US $100,000 bounty on his head. The reward for his capture had gone up four-fold since he was first implicated in the shooting of two university student athletes.
The FBI believes Registe shot and killed Columbus State University student athletes Randy Newton Jr. and Bryan Kilgore on July 20, 2007, and then fled the country to avoid capture. It reported that he had sought refuge in the U.S. Virgin Islands Territory of St. Thomas and the Commonwealth of Dominica before arriving in St. Maarten.
The U.S. took 44 days to complete the procedure for requesting an extradition, but Stomp had long since contested Registe’s going back to U.S., contending that he would not receive justice. Stomp insisted that existing racial tension in the Southern state of Georgia and the media coverage already surrounding Registe’s detention would make a “fair trial impossible.”
Stomp condemned the U.S. judicial system as biased, warning that American courts could not be trusted, and slammed his heel against the courtroom floor with each mention of “Georgia.”
Stomp later said: “Georgia is not a red state, it’s a deep red state,” maintaining that Registe would be given a harsh sentence. “It’s fairly simple. … The question is: ‘Is he going get a fair trial?’” In the courtroom, he pulled out a recent edition of Georgia daily The Ledger Inquirer and pointed to a case where the U.S. Supreme Court had stepped in to overturn the state’s judicial system in a murder case, trying to support his point that there would not be a fair trial in Registe’s future.
If the court advises the Governor of the Netherlands Antilles on December 23 that Registe should be extradited, Stomp plans to take his case to the High (Supreme) Court in The Hague in a bid to overturn the extradition. “We can still go to court and block his extradition,” Stomp responded to questions about what he might do if the ruling did not go his way.
The Daily Herald understands that Registe’s family will remain on-island until the ruling.
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