Former Turks and Caicos premier granted bail

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos, Wednesday January 8, 2014, CMC – Chief Justice Edwin Goldsbrough late Tuesday granted bail to former premier Michael Misick who had been extradited from Brazil to face allegations of corruption allegedly committed during his tenure as head of government.

Magistrate Kelly Cheema had earlier denied bail to the 47-year-old former premier, forcing his legal team headed by attorney Oliver Smith to appeal to the High Court.

But Misick was temporarily remanded to prison in Grand Turk because all of the bail conditions outlined by Chief Justice Goldsbrough could not be met by the time the court closed on Tuesday. If Misick meets the bail conditions before Monday, January 13, he will be released earlier. 

Misick returned here on board a US military plane and was whisked to the police headquarters where he was questioned for nearly two hours and then charged with conspiracy to bribe.

A statement from the Office of the Governor had earlier indicated that the United Kingdom government welcomed the return of Misick “to face a number of serious charges relating to corruption and maladministration during his time in office.

““It is important for the people of TCI, (Turks and Caicos Islands) a UK Overseas Territory that the rule of law is respected and due process is followed. It will now be down to the TCI Courts to consider Michael Misick’s case as well as that of 14 others charged with similar offences,” the statement said.

As Misick entered the courtroom, he was greeted by scores of people voicing support. Media reports said that several prominent persons from Providenciales also flew over to Grand Turk for the court hearings.

Among them were former premier Galmo Williams and Bishop Coleta Williams.

Misick was arrested in Brazil last December under an Interpol provisional arrest warrant. Last October, the Brazilian Supreme Court ordered his extradition and last year, the head investigator in a British government’s probe of corruption in the TCI confirmed that Misick, will join 10 others, including four of his cabinet ministers, in defending allegations that they illegally sold government lands for profit and cut other sweetheart deals to enrich themselves during their tenure in office.

Misick, who has been in a Brazilian jail since he was re-arrested in Sao Paulo last April had denied reports that he was seeking a plea bargain with British and American law enforcement authorities in return for implicating United States citizens and senior politicians in Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The allegations against the former premier stem from the findings of the 2008/2009 Sir Robin Auld’s Commission of Inquiry which found widespread misuse of government funds and property.

Misick, who has maintained his innocence, had sought political asylum in Brazil, claiming that he was unfairly targeted by British authorities.

The one-man Commission of Inquiry had found there was “a high probability of systemic corruption in government and the legislature and among public officers in the Turks & Caicos Islands”. 

In the wake of this Inquiry, London instructed the TCI Governor to suspend part of the Constitution and Misick’s then elected government was removed and replaced by an interim administration. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)