Miami Herald, March 20, 2012
Former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick says he is seeking political asylum from persecution by British investigators who are looking into corruption allegations under his tenure.
On Monday, the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) in the Turks and Caicos Islands said it has obtained an Interpol arrest warrant for Misick, who is wanted for questioning as part of its ongoing two-year-old investigation. Misick quickly responded in a press statement, accusing the British of “political persecution” against “me and my family, former cabinet ministers and their families and a select few developers who supported me and my Progressive National Party during my tenure as premier.”
Last week after a war of words with the British governor, Misick called for a commission of inquiry into the interim government in charge of Turks and Caicos, a British dependent territory. On Monday, investigators issued a statement saying port of entries have been put on alert that the former leader is wanted back home for questioning.
“For the past several months the SIPT has sought to secure the attendance of Mr Misick at its offices in Providenciales in respect of allegations of corruption and money laundering during his time in office,” the investigation team said in a statement Monday. “Every opportunity has been given to Mr Misick to voluntarily surrender to the SIPT’s jurisdiction for interview. Despite previous indications from Mr. Misick’s solicitors that he would attend for interview, he has failed to do so.”
Misick said he is not a fugitive from the law. He did not name the third country where he has applied for political asylum.
“There is no way that I, or any of the persons that have been accused by Helen Garlick and her team can get a fair trial,” Misick said referring to Garlick, who is leading the SIPT. “I have applied for political asylum from another country and I am merely seeking protection from political persecution.”
In 2009, the British government suspended the Turks and Caicos’ constitution and direct rule following a commission of inquiry into corruption allegations by Misick and his government.
So far 13 individuals including four former government ministers have been formally charged in court with taking millions of dollars to fraudulently distribute government land and giving access to developers. The arrest and charges are part of an ongoing investigation by the SIPT. Next month, the Turks and Caicos Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether there is sufficient evidence for a trial to proceed.
Written by Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, email@example.com