Will ‘Honeymoon Killer’ Stay in Australia or Face Extradition to U.S.?

The American man dubbed the “honeymoon killer” will be released from his Queensland prison cell tomorrow and an international law expert says he may be given a temporary visa to stay in Australia.

It is still unclear when Gabe Watson will return home to Alabama and whether he will face murder charges when he does.

Australian officials are seeking assurances Watson will not face the death penalty should he be retried. In the eyes of Australian law, Watson has been convicted of the crime and served his time.

Watson served 18 months after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of his wife, Tina, 10 days into their honeymoon on the Great Barrier Reef.

While he will be released into immigration detention, it is possible Watson will be given a temporary visa to stay in Australia if extradition talks with the U.S. are not completed soon.

State officials in Alabama, Watson’s home state, have said they plan on retrying Watson, but will not seek the death penalty. However, the apparent reluctance of Australian officials to embrace those assurances is frustrating authorities in Alabama. Specifically, Australian authorities are seeking confirmation with the U.S. federal government, and do not want to rely on state authorities.

The problem with this request is obvious. Because the U.S. federal government has no control over state law, such as homicide, the U.S. Department of State is most likely not going to be able to give Australian authorities the reassurance they seek. Although the State Department handles extradition proceedings, states are granted the power of bringing charges against an individual who has committed a state crime.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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