IF THE OAG RECOMMENDS IT
Gov. Eloy S. Inos said Friday that he will ask the federal government to extradite former governor Benigno R. Fitial if and when the Office of the Attorney General recommends it, but he would like the CNMI to proceed with caution.
This comes days after the House of Representatives adopted a resolution asking Inos to initiate the extradition process for Fitial, who stepped down days before the start of his impeachment trial at the Senate last year.
Inos reiterated that he referred the extradition resolution to the OAG for guidance and recommendation.
“The AG is looking at it right now,” he said, adding that the OAG has not gotten back to him yet on the matter.
Inos said if the OAG recommends that the CNMI pursue Fitial’s extradition, “everything must be in order because the document could be shot down if there’s technical defect and so forth.” He was referring to the summons or the warrant issued.
When asked whether he would sign a formal request to extradite Fitial, Inos said, “Yes, I would, but it would be a request to the State Department.”
Inos reiterated that international extradition is a function of the federal government and not the local government.
Fitial is believed to be in the Philippines where his wife hails from. The Philippines has an extradition treaty with the United States.
He added that Office of the Public Auditor counsel George Hasselback, as special prosecutor, “is the one that has to initiate the formal action.” The governor said the OPA counsel is now working with the OAG in this regard.
House vice speaker Frank Dela Cruz (Ind-Saipan), main author of the Fitial extradition resolution, said the federal government won’t consider extraditing Fitial if the CNMI “does not lift a finger” to initiate the process.
Dela Cruz, also a co-sponsor of the impeachment resolutions against Fitial, said it is not fair that Fitial has yet to be brought to court while the persons facing the same criminal charges—including police officers and ports police officers—had already been served with summons.
Fitial’s former attorney general Edward Buckingham has already been found guilty of corruption and other charges, many of them the same charges that Fitial faces. Buckingham during his trial, told the court it was Fitial’s idea to use government resources to provide him with “escort” from a hotel to the airport on the day he was leaving Saipan.