FSM citizen extradited to US to face felony charges
- Category: News
- Published: Tuesday, 04 October 2016 13:00
- Written by Bill Jaynes
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First FSM citizen to be extradited to US since 2005
By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
September 20, 2016
Colonia, Yap—James C. Siugpiyemal today agreed to waive a hearing on extradition to the United States where he will face several criminal charges.
Those charges allege that while Siugpiyemal was serving as a correctional services officer at the Maui Community Correctional Center (MCCC) in 2014, he raped a female inmate. The allegations were described in graphic detail in the documents filed by the FSM Department of Justice on behalf of the United States.
The inmate who was serving time for theft was on a work release program that allowed her to leave the jail in order to work. Her testimony says that Siugpiyemal discovered that she had posted a photo of herself in a bikini on Facebook, activity she feared would land her in solitary confinement and get her removed from the work furlough program. Siugpiyemal began contacting her via texts and by other methods, including Facebook, all of which eventually landed in the hands of Maui law enforcement officers.
Fearing that Siupiyemal would report her Facebook activities, she agreed to meet him at the Maui Tropical Plantation parking lot. Against her objections he forced her through coercion to perform oral sex on him in her car. She kept the DNA evidence of that act in her car until she could bag it and put it into her mother’s freezer. She also ordered a small video camera and put Siupiyemal off until after it arrived. She used it to record in graphic detail the next time that Siupiyemal forced himself on her. In addition to capturing the act on video which she turned over to law enforcement officers, she also kept the DNA evidence.
Based on the State’s evidence, a Maui grand jury handed down an indictment in 2014, and a bench warrant was issued with a $500,000 bail requirement. But Siugpiyemal was already gone, having fled to Yap after paying over $1600 cash for a plane ticket.
The request for extradition came through diplomatic channels to the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs on August 23, 2016, almost two months after the victim filed a civil suit alleging that the State did not take her claims that she had been raped seriously because she was an inmate. It claims that instead the State warned Siugpiyemal about pending charges in time for him to retaliate against the inmate by colluding with another guard to falsify the results of a urinalysis and then to escape to Yap before he could be arrested.
News articles that were published after the victim filed the civil suit in early July of this year said that Myles Breiner, her attorney filed the suit because the statute of limitations was running out.
According to the extradition complaint filed by the FSM Department of Justice, the statute of limitations for the charges Siugpiyemal faces is three years. According to Hawaii statutes, that limitation does not run anytime the accused is continually absent from the State as Siugpiyemal has been since October of 2014.
Apparently US Marshals have been searching for Siugpiyemal since the indictment was handed down and only found him after a request for extradition was filed.
Since 2003, when the Compact of Free Association was amended, the FSM has had a mutual agreement with the US for extradition where offenses are serious enough to warrant at least one year of incarceration and where laws prohibiting an offense exist in each of the two countries. The last FSM citizen extradited from the FSM to the USA was in 2005. In 2010, a US citizen was extradited to the FSM to face criminal charges.
The hearing on the extradition complaint began on September 19, but Siugpiyemal had only had a few moments with his attorney before that time. FSM’s attorney, Clayton Lawrence agreed that was not sufficient time and suggested that Siugpiyemal should have more opportunity to meet with this attorney. The hearing was deferred until September 20 at which time Siugpiyemal agreed to waive a hearing and submit to extradition.
“On September 20 the court found that there was probable cause for Siugpiymeal’s extradition,” wrote Clayton Lawrence on behalf of the FSM Department of Justice. “We expect, as we would with any of our citizens, upon his surrender to the United States Government, Mr. Siugpiyemal be provided effective legal assistance, and he be afforded due process and a fair proceeding for those crimes for which he was sought.