Sky News has reported that the Premier of the British Virgin Islands has demanded his immediate release from US custody, claiming he is immune from prosecution on drug trafficking charges.
According to the British news organisation, Andrew Fahie has said he cannot be tried for his alleged crimes because he is an elected, constitutional head of government of the British overseas territory.
BVI News, for its part, reported that a representative from the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, confirmed with its news team that Fahie filed a “Notice of Invocation of Immunity” at federal court in Miami.
Last week US law enforcement officials arrested Fahie in a sting operation as he was about to board a private jet in Miami.
A criminal complaint said the BVI Premier and the territory’s Director of Ports, Oleanvine Maynard, were meeting undercover United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents posing as drug traffickers.
One day after Fahie’s arrest, BVI Governor John Rankin effected the early release of a January 2021 Commission of Inquiry report into the territory’s governance.
Rankin disclosed that the report found millions were spent on useless or abandoned projects, some linked to allies of the BVI Premier.
And it proposed direct UK rule of the British overseas territory, a recommendation opposed by Natalio Wheatley, the deputy who became Acting Premier after Fahie’s arrest on drug and money laundering charges.
The UK Guardian said Wheatley’s position has the support of the opposition.
Amid moves by the ruling Virgin Islands Party (VIP) to get Fahie to resign as Premier, BVI activists demonstrated against the direct United Kingdom rule proposal on Monday.
Reuters News Agency reported that hundreds of people rallied outside the office of Governor John Rankin in the capital Road Town on the island of Tortola chanting slogans and holding signs that said “No UK rule.
According to Reuters, the rally coincided with a visit by Amanda Milling, a British member of parliament who is also Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East, to discuss the report released by the Commission of Inquiry.