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Official extradition request received by US from Tonga for US alleged murderer Fletcher

The United States government has received the official extradition request from the government of Tonga for the extradition of an American man wanted in Tonga for the alleged murder of his wife, according to federal court records.

Fifty-four year old Dean Jay Fletcher, while in custody of Tonga police after being arrested for the alleged July murder of his wife, escaped the Island Kingdom of Tonga on Sept. 29 and headed to American Samoa on his sailboat, where he was arrested for entering American Samoa without authorization. While in local custody, he was turned over late last month to US Marshals Service agents, who took him to Honolulu to face an extradition process that would return him to Tonga.

Tonga’s Attorney General’s Office announced last week in a press statement that on Dec. 6, it formally submitted to the Embassy of the United States in Suva, Fiji, “an extradition request” from the Tonga government to the US government for the return of Fletcher to be tried on criminal charges laid against him in the Supreme Court of Tonga, where he is accused of murdering his wife Patricia Linne Kearney on 6 July 2016 at Neiafu, Vava’u.

The extradition request first goes through the US State Department, which handles these issues under treaty agreements with foreign countries, before it’s sent to the US Justice Department for consideration and processing. It is then presented to the US federal court.

Yesterday, Assistant US Attorney Larry Butrick filed notice with the Honolulu federal court that the US Justice Department has been advised by the State Department that the US Embassy in Suva has received a request, “under cover of diplomatic note,” from Tonga for Fletcher’s extradition.

Having submitted an extradition request through the diplomatic channels to the US Embassy in Fiji, the government of Tonga has complied with the requirements of the Treaty that the extradition request be “produced within two months from the date of the apprehension of the fugitive,” Butrick wrote in the two-page court filing.

Fletcher remains in jail at the federal detention center in Honolulu without bail because he is considered a flight risk and a danger to the community. 

Fletcher’s extradition hearing is set for Jan. 10, 2017 before US Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield, who will also preside over a status hearing set for Dec 19.

At the extradition hearing, the “court will determine if Tonga has complied” with the Treaty requirements for Fletcher’s extradition, Butrick told Samoa News early this month.

As previously reported by Samoa News, the final decision on whether to extradite Fletcher to Tonga rests with the US State Department.

It’s noted in Butrick’s court filings that the US Embassy in Suva also represents the US diplomatic relationship with Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Nauru.