A court in Belize on Tuesday, July 17, halted the extradition of Slovak fugitive Karol Mello to Slovakia, local TV channel Belize News5 has reported on its website, quoting Godfrey Smith, Mello’s lawyer. Mello, however, was not released from detention and remains in detention in the capital, Belmopan.
Smith claims that his client was detained illegally, as Belize has still not formally charged him with any crime. According to Chanel 5, Mello has permanent residence in Belize and lives there with his wife and two children. According to Smith, Mello has not been officially informed why he is being detained or why Slovakia has asked for his extradition.
Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák would not say whether the developments in the Mello case violate immigration rules or international warrants in cases of murder. “We must strive to transport this suspect in several murder cases into the hands of the prosecution in Slovakia – that is the task of the police, and that is all,” he said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “Now it starts to be more complicated than it first appeared – that it is just the matter of enormous distance,” Kaliňák added.
Mello, who is 42, was detained in July 11 on the Belizean island of San Pedro. He was arrested during an operation codenamed Infrared that was organised by Interpol and Slovak police. He had reportedly been in Belize for several months. Mello spent several years evading arrest after he was accused of being behind a double murder near Bratislava in 2004, but was apprehended in Poland in 2010 and extradited to Slovakia. However, he was then released from custody by the Slovak courts in 2011 and immediately went on the run again.
Sources: Belize News5 website, SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.