Tonga will not stop trying to bring American accused to justice says Attorney General

1
FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2016, file photo provided by the Samoa News, Dean Jay Fletcher, left, is escorted by a police officer after his initial appearance in the District Court of American Samoa in Pago Pago, American Samoa. A U.S. judge in Hawaii has ordered the release of U.S. citizen Fletcher, being held for extradition to Tonga, where he's accused of beating his wife to death, escaping police and sailing some 300 miles to American Samoa. (Ausage Fausia/SamoaNews via AP, File)

Tonga will not stop trying to bring an American accused of murdering his Canadian wife to justice, according to Acting Attorney General Aminiasi Kefu.

Kefu was commenting after Dean Jay Fletcher was freed after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson intervened to refuse Tonga’s request to extradite Fletcher for trial from Hawai’i.

As Kaniva News reported at the time, the Tongan government requested Fletcher’s extradition in December last year.

It is understood the US State Department explained its decision to free Fletcher by saying it was worried that Fletcher would have faced a death sentence or life in prison and that he would not have a free lawyer.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that Tillerson’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by a judge in the Hawai’ian capital that Fletcher could be handed over to Tongan authorities.

Attorney General Kefu described the decision as disappointing.

“We have very strong circumstantial evidence,” he told the Associated Press.

“We believe he’s committed a crime here in Tonga, and we won’t stop until we’re able to bring him to justice.”

Tonga could seek Fletcher’s extradition if he travelled to other countries, Kefu said.

Fletcher was charged with murder in Tonga in the July 2016 death of his Canadian wife, Patricia Linne Kearney.

Evidence presented to court in Honolulu said three  diving operators saw Fletcher assaulting his wife on a dinghy in the Vava’u group.

Tongan officials told US prosecutors that Fletcher kicked and punched his wife as they reached a boat called the Sea Oak.

Fletcher was arrested and jailed and escaped in September 2016. He sailed to American Samoa where he was arrested and transferred to Hawai’i.

In February Radio New Zealand reported that the Sea Oak had illegally left Pago Pago. It said  Tonga’s Attorney General had asked the US Government to return the yacht.

A US legal authority described the US Secretary of State’s action in refusing extradition as unusual because the United States had an extradition treaty with Tonga.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser quoted Allen S. Weiner, director of Stanford University’s programme in International and Comparative Law, as saying it was usually other countries that did not want to extradite their citizens to the United States when the death penalty was possible.

Kefu told U.S. officials it was unlikely the death penalty would have been imposed and that nobody in Tonga received free legal representation.

The case against Fletcher was solid, he said.

The main points

  • Tonga will not stop trying to bring an American accused of murdering his Canadian wife to justice, according to Acting Attorney General Aminiasi Kefu.
  • Kefu was commenting after Dean Jay Fletcher was freed after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson intervened to refuse Tonga’s request to extradite Fletcher for trial from Hawai’i.
  • As Kaniva News reported at the time, the Tongan government requested Fletcher’s extradition in December last year.
  • The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that Tillerson’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by a judge in the Hawai’ian capital that Fletcher could be handed over to Tongan authorities.

Comments / Tālanga

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments

1 COMMENT

  1. Kuo fakatau’atāina’i ‘a e tangata ‘Amelika ne faka’ilo kau ki he fakapoongi ‘a hono uaifi ‘i Tonga hili ‘eni ‘a e ‘ikai tali ‘e he State Department ‘a ‘Amelika ke fakafoki fakapule’anga hake ia ki Tonga ‘aki ‘enau pehe ‘e ‘ikai ke hopo’i fakalelei ia ai. .

    Ko hono ngāue’aki ‘eni ‘e he Sekelitali ‘a ‘Amelika Rex Tillerson ‘a hono mafai ‘o ‘ikai ai ke ne tali ‘a e kole ‘a Tonga ke fakafoki mai mu’a ‘a Dean Jay Fletcher ke hopo’i ‘i Tonga fakatatau ‘eni ki ha tohi ki he kau faifaka’ilo ‘a e State Department ‘a ‘Amelika.

    Na’e tu’utu’uni atu ai ha fakamaau ‘Amelika ‘I Hawai’i he ‘aho Pulelulu ke tuku ange leva ‘oua toe tatali ‘a Fletcher mei he senitā Honolulu Federal Detention.

    Na’e faka’ilo ‘a Fletcher ki he fakapō mo ha ngaahi faka’ilo kehe pe ‘I Tonga ‘I Siulai 2016 kau ki he mate ‘a hono uaifi ko e fefine Kānata ko Patricia Linne Kearney.

    ‘I he konga ki mu’a ‘o e ta’u ni na’e tu’utu’uni ai ha fakamaau ‘Amelika ‘e lava p eke fakafoki fakapule’anga ‘a Fletcher ki Tonga.

    Ka ‘i ha tohi ‘I he ‘aho Tūsite ne fakamahino ai e hoha’a ‘a e State Department ki ha ala ke tautea mate ‘a Fletcher ‘I Tonga pea ‘e ‘ikai ke lava ma’u ha’ane loea ta’etotongi ai.

    Kapau ‘e fakahalaia’I ia pea tautea mate ‘e lava ko Flectcher ‘a e fuofua tokotaha ke tautau ‘I Tonga talu e tautau ne fakahoko ai ‘I he 1981.