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Feds set Fletcher detention hearing for next week in Honolulu

The federal court in Honolulu has set for next week a detention hearing for an American man wanted by Tongan authorities for the murder of his wife and both the government and defense have been asked to file briefings on the issue of extradition, which is being sought by the Kingdom of Tonga for the accused.

Dean Jay Fletcher, who turned 54-years old this month while in custody in American Samoa, was taken from Pago Pago to Honolulu early this week by agents of the US Marshal Services following a diplomatic request from Tonga to the US Justice Department for extradition.

Fletcher made his initial appearance Tuesday afternoon before US District Court Judge J. Mansfield, where discussions were held regarding extradition procedures, according to a brief transcription of the hearing. It also says that Mansfield scheduled for Nov. 28 the defendant’s detention hearing, on federal prosecutors motion to detain Fletcher without bail.

Additionally, the court and the parties will address the time within which to set the extradition hearing after the detention hearing. Further, the court invited briefs from the parties on any issues they would like to address concerning the extradition hearing.

Honolulu-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Butrick filed Tuesday the 8-page “complaint for provisional arrest with a view towards extradition” with the federal court. Based on information from the Tongan government, Fletcher is charged with murder, manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm. The alleged murder occurred in July 6 this year.

Fletcher fled to American Samoa on Sept. 29 on his sail boat, Sea Oak and was arrested by territory officials for unauthorized entry into Pago Pago on Oct. 3. It was a woman who tipped off police about Fletcher being wanted by Tongan authorities for the murder of his wife.

The charge in American Samoa was dismissed Monday and Fletcher was handed over to US Marshals Service agents who were in Pago Pago to take the defendant to Honolulu.

The Associated Press reports that Tonga officials have two months to provide authorities in Honolulu with extradition documents. It will be up to the U.S. Department of State to determine if he'll be extradited, said Butrick.