Monday, April 20, 2009

Law & Order : Kenny MacAskill signs extradition order on Scots family to US over chemical sales

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has signed an extradition order on a man and his pregnant wife over a case involving their chemical business, known as Lab Chemicals International, which was investigated by American law enforcement for selling iodine and red phosphorus which is used in the manufacture of narcotics in the USA.

The sales of the substances identified are not a criminal offence in the UK, however the couple are to be extradited to the US (subject to an ongoing appeal against extradition) where the sale of the chemicals is apparently illegal.

The Sunday Post reports :

Couple faces extradition over chemical sales

US jail threat to Scots family

Brian Howes with his pregnant wife Kerry and their daughters.By Craig Robertson

A SCOTS mum facing extradition to the US still doesn’t know when her fate will be decided — despite being due to give birth in just 10 days.

Mum-of-four Kerry Howes, who has been diagnosed with severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder, appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday but a hearing date was not set.

It means the 31-year-old faces a home birth without knowing if she will soon be taken 5000 miles away and thrown into jail.

Up to 98 years

Kerry and husband Brian (45) from Bo’ness face up to 98 years in an Arizona jail if found guilty of exporting chemicals US authorities claim were used to make the drug crystal meth.

The couple ran a legal chemical business — Lab Chemicals International — until targeted by undercover agents posing as buyers after a tip-off by one American citizen.

They accused Brian and Kerry of selling iodine and red phosphorus in the knowledge they would be used to manufacture the highly addictive drug. The couple maintain they were simply selling chemicals to be used in amateur pyrotechnics.

Red phosphorous is perfectly legal in the UK but strictly regulated in the US.

“We’ve done nothing wrong,” Brian told The Sunday Post. “We sold chemicals online to be used in fireworks, some as medication for animals and for sheep dip. We sold them everywhere except where they were embargoed.


“We were registered with the Special Branch and the Home Office. Central Scotland Police visited us regularly and we would ask if there was anything on the site we shouldn’t be selling and they always said no. Also we only dealt in credit card sales so all transactions were traceable.

“They even asked us to report any Muslim names among the people buying from us and we agreed to do that. Then the next thing we know we face extradition to the US without any evidence against us whatsoever.”

Brian and Kerry spent 214 days in separate prisons without charge last year, he in Saughton and she in Cornton Vale.

The couple were eventually released on bail but only after Brian went on a 30-day hunger strike to prevent the children being put into care.

That episode has left him with minor brain damage. Kerry has been left depressed at the prospect of losing her children — Denni (11), Bethaney (10), Ellie (6) and Leela (3).

One-sided treaty

The couple are victims of the one-sided post-September 11 extradition treaty which allows UK citizens to be forced to the US to stand trial. It allows Britons to be extradited without prima facie evidence of criminality.

“We’re being extradited on false information and none of it can be challenged,” said Brian.

The couple’s cases are now being considered separately and Kerry returned to the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday. She met with a new advocate and new medical reports were called for.

“No date was set, not even for a preliminary hearing,” explained Brian. “The judges said they were unhappy that our cases are being dealt with separately.


“My case is scheduled for May 26 to 29 and Kerry’s will not be set until after that. If I win, she wins automatically, that has been made clear. If I lose then she will go into court after that.”

The couple have been refused application to have their bail conditions changed to allow both of them to attend hospital for the birth of the baby.

Brian’s curfew insists he is at home from 8 pm to 8 am and both must sign on at their local police station three times a day. As a result they feel they have no option but to go for a home birth.

The extradition was formally approved by Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill. A Justice spokesman said they could not comment subject to the appeal to the High Court.

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