CA orders BI to deport British cannabis seed trader straight to UK
MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals has ordered the Bureau of Immigration to proceed with the deportation of a British cannabis seed trader facing charges for money laundering and narcotics trafficking in Maine, United States.
The appellate court’s Special 7th Division, however, directed that Gypsy Nirvana be deported straight to the United Kingdom and ordered the BI to make sure that his flight home would not stop in or pass through the US.
The court, in an 11-page decision dated June 25 and released last week, denied Nirvana’s plea to stop his deportation, saying his lawyers should have first appealed to the justice secretary and the Office of the President before seeking judicial intervention.
However, despite the validity of the deportation proceedings, the appeals justices said they took cognizance of Nirvana’s refusal to set foot on US soil for “fear of his life and/or safety.”
“Expediency cannot justify a resort to procedural shortcuts. The end does not justify the means. A meritorious case cannot overshadow the condition that the means employed to pursue it must be in keeping with the rules,” the court said in the decision written by Justice Agnes Reyes-Carpio.
The other division members, Justices Marie Gonzales-Sison and Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla, concurred in the ruling.
The justices adopted what they called a “solomonic decision” by ordering the BI to book him on a flight straight to the UK, or on one that would not make a stopover in US territory.
“[H]umanitarian consideration and due regard to the feelings of his family in the Philippines compel us to decree the solomonic decision without interfering in the sound discretion of the Executive Branch [to deport him]. The law may be harsh, but it does not render us all heartless. Indeed the law is solicitous to everyone regardless of his station in life,” the ruling said.
Nirvana has been residing in the Philippines since 2007 and has five children by her Filipino girlfriend.
He was arrested in Olongapo City on August 23, 2013 shortly after the BI received information from the US Embassy in Manila about his indictment by the US district court in Bangor, Maine.
The Briton, said to be the founder of the online International Cannagraphic magazine, was accused by US authorities of engaging in a UK-based marijuana seed auction business, which has been catering to customers in the US. The BI said Nirvana’s transactions were done online or through mail and wire transfers.
On his blog, however, Nirvana has described the US charges as “ridiculous,” saying that his business of selling and distributing cannabis seeds was legal in the UK since the seeds did not contain any narcotics substance at all.
“[T]he US says that cannabis seed is a narcotic, hence my dilemma. I have been a resident in the Philippines since 2007 and have [five] children to support and care for. The last thing I want to do is to be deported from this country and then extradited to the US to have to face these ridiculous charges,” he said.
While detained at the BI jail in Taguig City, the bureau’s board of commissioners on September 2 ordered him deported.
Nirvana filed a petition for habeas corpus at the Manila regional trial court the following day, claiming, among others, that his right to due process was violated.
The RTC judge issued a writ of habeas corpus the same day. It was recalled after the hearing held the following day, during which the RTC ruled that Nirvana should have first appealed his deportation to the secretary of justice and the Office of the President before going to court.
On September 7, the BI set to deport Nirvana on a Philippine Airlines flight to Los Angeles, California, where he was set to take a connecting flight to London.
The deportation did not push through because Nirvana went unruly at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the airline ejected him from the flight.
The Briton, according to the BI, said he did not want to be in transit in US territory for fear of his life and safety.