(CMR) The premier of the British Virgin Islands is demanding his immediate release from U.S. custody, claiming he has immunity from prosecution because he is the elected, constitutional head of government of the British overseas territory.
Andrew Fahie was arrested last week during a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sting as he was preparing to board a private jet in Miami.
Fahie is scheduled to appear in court for a bail hearing Wednesday, but his defense attorney filed a notice on his behalf Monday, informing the court that he is invoking immunity “under international and domestic law, as the duly elected and sitting head of government of the Virgin Islands, a British Overseas Territory.”
Fahie and Oleanvine Maynard, his ports director, had been at the airport to meet who they thought were Mexican drug traffickers but who were undercover DEA agents.
In the criminal complaint, Maynard refers to Fahie as a “little crook sometimes” who wouldn't hesitate to profit from a plan cooked up with the help of self-proclaimed Lebanese Hezbollah operatives to move mass quantities of cocaine and drug proceeds through the British overseas territory.
Fahie, who also serves as the finance minister, had traveled to Miami to attend a conference for the cruise industry. He had appointed a deputy to act as premier in his absence.
Following his arrest, Governor John Rankin called for the suspension of the BVI's constitution for two years to clean up the government and return to home rule by officials from London.
Governor Rankin had ordered an inquiry in 2021 to investigate “the corruption, abuse of office, and other serious dishonesty” in the territory's governance. The investigation found that politicians and ministries spent millions of dollars of state funds each year without proper process.
On Monday, several people protested returning to British rule in front of the governor's office in the BVI.