Paul Peters, the investment banker accused of placing a fake bomb around the neck of Sydney schoolgirl Madeleine Pulver, expects to be back in Australia within a week to fight the charges.
Mr Peters, 50, appeared in a court in Louisville, Kentucky, early this morning Australian time and waived his right to fight extradition.
Dressed in a striped jail uniform and sandals, Mr Peters was asked by US District Court Judge Dave Whalin if he understood the rights he was giving up, if he understood extradition law.
He replied “yes, indeed”.
Judge Whalin then asked Mr Peters if anyone made threats or promises to ensure the waiver of extradition. “None whatsoever,” he responded.
Mr Peters’s ex-wife, Deborah Lee Peters, at whose Kentucky home he was arrested in an FBI operation last month, attended the hearing as a gesture of support.
At one point, Mr Peters mouthed to her “Are you OK?” then nodded his head after she signalled a response. She declined to comment to the media afterwards.
Outside the court, Mr Peters’s lawyer, Thomas Clay, said he expected his client to return to Australia within a week.
“Mr Peters has executed a waiver of his right to contest extradition, so now the coast is clear for Australian officials to come and pick him up,” Mr Clay said.
He said he had spoken to the Australian embassy earlier in the day, and the best estimate was that that would probably happen “some time next week”.
He had waived the extradition rights because he wanted to get back to Australia and deal with the charges – and also because extradition was almost always granted, Mr Clay said.
“Generally the extradition process is just a formality, the burden of proof to justify it is low,” Mr Clay said.
“Mr Peters knew that, and all the time he was spending in jail here would probably not gain him anything. He wanted to hasten the extradition and get back to Australia to face the charges.”
Mr Clay said his client was relieved to get into court and speed up the process of returning home. “He is looking forward to his return to Australia,” Mr Clay said.
Mr Peters returned to custody in Kentucky and will stay there until he is collected by Australian police.
The FBI’s Kentucky spokesman, David Beyer, said US marshals and the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC, would now work with Australian officials to “finalise the paperwork” and return Mr Peters to Australia.
“We are thinking it will be fairly soon,” he said.
Australian police said in US court documents that Mr Peters was accused of breaking into 18-year-old Miss Pulver’s home in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Mosman on August 3 and tethering the fake bomb to her neck as part of an elaborate extortion plot.
Federal prosecutors said Australian authorities traced an email account used in the alleged plot, as well as surveillance video from several stores and airline records, to find Mr Peters, an Australian citizen who has lived in Kentucky.
This article was written by Nick Miller and published on September 15, 2011.
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