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Surinamese moves to block US extradition

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Edward Quincy Muntslag

Surinamese businessman Edward Quincy Muntslag, who is wanted in the United States for cocaine trafficking, has made a last-ditch attempt to block his extradition. The move comes almost two weeks after Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar signed off on his extradition proceedings which dragged on for over one-and-a-half years. Since then, his lawyers Keith Scotland and Asha Watkins-Montserin have filed a habeas corpus writ seeking a review of Ayers-Caesar’s decision.

The case came up for hearing before Justice Charmaine Pemberton in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday morning but had to be adjourned shortly after to allow Muntslag’s lawyers to file supplementary documents central to their claim. Pemberton has adjourned the case to next Thursday. The US interest is being represented by attorneys Israel Khan, SC, Jagdeo Singh and Central Authority head Netram Kowlessar.

Muntslag, whose family runs a restaurant in Suriname’s capital, Paramaribo, was arrested while shopping at Trincity Mall shortly after arriving in Trinidad in August 2013. He remains detained at the Maximum Security Prison, Arouca, after Ayers-Caesar refused his request for bail pending the outcome of his legal challenge.

Muntslag is jointly charged with Dino Bouterse, the 41-year-old son of Suriname’s president Desi Bouterse, for conspiring to import five kilos of cocaine into the US and for using a gun during a drug trafficking crime between 2011 and August 2013. Bouterse was arrested in Panama, shortly after Muntslag was held and has since been extradited to the US.

He was later slapped with an additional charge for providing material support to Lebanese militant and political group Hezbollah, which the US has designated a terrorist organisation. The terrorism charge arose from meetings in Greece and Panama with undercover US agents, posing as representatives of the militant organisation. 

Bouterse is said to have agreed to take US$2 million to provide Hezbollah operatives with fake identities, weapons, including surface to air missiles, and locations in his country to establish bases to attack US and Dutch targets. Bouterse pleaded guilty to the charges in August last year. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison when he is sentenced later this year.


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