Former Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick, who is the subject of an extradition hearing, has been released from a Rio de Janeiro prison on bail, according to a spokesman with the islands’ British governor’s.
Neil Smith, the governor’s spokesman, said Misick was released Friday after the Brazilian Supreme Court granted him bail.
“This does not mean that the legal process is exhausted,” Smith said in a statement, noting that the ex-leader still cannot leave Brazil on his own.
Misick’s release after his Dec. 7 arrest in Brazil on an international arrest warrant is the latest chapter in the islands’ ongoing saga involving a three-year-old British-led investigation into widespread corruption by the former leader’s government, and efforts by Turks Islanders to take charge after the British returned direct rule in November.
In that election, voters narrowly returned Misick’s Progressive National Party (PNP) back to office. But last week, a judge ruled that another election must be held for a contested seat the party won because one of the losing candidates was a U.S. citizen who was not eligible to run. The votes to that candidate skewed results, the judge ruled.
With the government currently evenly split 8-8 between the PNP and the opposition People’s Democratic Party, the government could soon change hands should the PNP lose the special election.
Also at issue in the sun-kissed islands just south of Florida is a controversial Value Added Tax that the British introduced and the newly reinstated House of Assembly rejected.
Misick was first arrested on Dec. 7 by Brazilian Federal Police on an international arrest warrant at an airport. On Jan. 28, Turks and Caicos prosecutors formally submitted documents requesting his extradition. He is wanted for questioning by British investigators who three years ago launched a probe into rampant corruption by the government. So far 13 people, including four former cabinet ministers under Misick, have been indicted on corruption-related charges that include the illegal selling of government-owned land.
A law firm hired to recover the land recently reported to the governor that it had recovered about 2,500 acres of land valued at about $100 million.