Bahamas defends decision on 'Barefoot Bandit'

NASSAU, Bahamas, Friday July 16, 2010 – The Bahamas Attorney General is stoutly defending local authorities for only charging the ‘Barefoot Bandit’ with entering the country illegally before extraditing him to the United States to face multiple charges. 

There has been criticism that 19-year-old American Colton Harris-Moore, who crash landed a stolen plane in the Bahamas and led police on a high-speed boat chase, got a slap on the wrist when he was charged with illegal landing, fined $300 and deported.

But Attorney General John Delaney is insisting that Harris-Moore’s alleged crimes in the Bahamas, the US and Canada are not frivolous matters.

“The Government of The Bahamas and the vast majority of Bahamians take with the utmost seriousness the breaching of our laws by Bahamians as well as non-Bahamians. Harris-Moore’s alleged crimes must be treated with the seriousness they deserve. It was therefore decided to act in a manner which ensures that Harris-Moore’s alleged crimes are dealt with in a firm manner,” Delaney said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It is not uncommon where an individual is alleged to have committed a series of crimes over multiple jurisdictions, for the jurisdiction where the lesser of the alleged crimes occurred, while acting in an appropriate way to condemn the breach of its laws, to allow the other jurisdiction where the greater of the offences allegedly took place to proceed with its charges by sending the individual to that jurisdiction,” he added.

The Attorney General further pointed out that US authorities were given the same consideration which they have extended to the Bahamas on various occasions. 

Harris-Moore, who had been on the run since escaping from a state halfway house in Washington in 2008, is suspected of committing scores of property crimes across Washington and several states, as well as in British Columbia. He is also accused of stealing several aircraft, boats and cars.

The 6-foot 5-inch teenager earned the nickname ‘Barefoot Bandit’ because it was thought he was not wearing shoes during his alleged crimes.