Tonga Talks Extradition for Fugitive

Tonga’s Attorney General’s Office is asking the United States for a provisional arrest warrant of Dean Jay Fletcher, who is accused of murdering his wife in Neiafu, Vava’u.

Fletcher fled police custody on September 29 and sailed to American Samoa on his yacht Sea Oak.

On Monday, he was arrested and charged for illegally entering and attempting to leave the port of Pago Pago without going through proper clearance.

The application for a provisional arrest warrant from the US was made on behalf of the Government of Tonga to be issued by a United States Federal Court, pending a formal application for extradition to be sent through diplomatic channels.

Tonga and the United States are a party to an Extradition Treaty, which the Tongan authorities believe is applicable to American Samoa.

Efforts to obtain comment from American Samoa Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale yesterday on whether this is true were not successful.

The Tongan authorities are eager to have Fletcher returned to Tonga to be tried for the alleged murder of his wife, Patricia Linne Kearney on July 6, 2016 in Neiafu.

An authoritative news service in Tonga, Matangi Tonga, reports that their AG has made contact with counterparts at the United States Department of Justice in Washington D.C. and American Samoa to start an extradition process, to return Fletcher to Tonga.

After receiving a response from the United States on October 5, the application was sent to the United States for his provisional arrest warrant.

American Samoa may he housing Fletcher at the Territorial Correctional Facility for some time as the Tongan authorities have said the extradition is a legally complicated process that would involve determination of complex legal issues through all legal avenues in foreign courts, and therefore it is likely to take some time to complete.

Other than murder, Fletcher is also charged with interference with the course of justice, and two counts of escape from lawful custody.

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