April 20, 2017

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Murder suspect on the run

Harris Binotti walking in Craigton, Scotland, a suburb of Glasgow. Binotti has left his Craigton apartment and is reportedly in hiding.
Photo: The Scottish Sun

The British man suspected of killing a compatriot in Yangon last year may have felt the pressure of impending arrest and has reportedly fled from his flat in Scotland and is in hiding, telling Facebook friends: “See you in the next life”.
Harris Binotti, 26, the prime suspect in the November 2016 murder of Gary Ferguson, a fellow teacher of English at Horizon International School in Yangon, left Myanmar hours before the body of Ferguson, a husband and father, was found on 6 November. Binotti was recently discovered to be living comfortably in Craigton, Scotland, a suburb of Glasgow, until a British newspaper, The Scottish Sun, disclosed his whereabouts.
A “red notice” had been issued for Binotti by Interpol last week.
The sudden and steady glare of the media and law enforcement apparently prompted Binotti to go underground.
On his Facebook page, Binotti told friends: “Whoever did this, I hope your [sic] proud of yourself,” according to the Scottish Sun. “I’m sorry if you really are a true friend and this had nothing to do with you, but I can’t take chances anymore. Peace out, catch you in the next life.”
Binotti’s Facebook page has since been taken down.
A source told the Scottish Sun how Binotti was furious after being caught with his girlfriend Elsy Devolder.
“He was not at all happy about being found by the Scottish Sun. It sounds like he might hide if he can. He doesn’t know who he can trust. He’s saying goodbye to the team and going it alone.”
Binotti, originally from Dumfries, Scotland, was not arrested by Scottish police because of what appears to be some miscommunication among international law enforcement agencies.
Scottish authorities have said Binotti could not be arrested because an arrest warrant had not been issued by Myanmar police. But Myanmar police said yesterday that an arrest warrant was issued within days of the discovery of Gary Ferguson’s body on 6 November.
The arrest warrant was translated into English, notarised, and then sent to Myanmar police headquarters in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital, according to Police Major Toe Myo, the head of the Kyauktada police department. Kyauktada was the neighbourhood in Yangon where the murder took place.
Messages to Interpol, the global police organisation that facilitates cooperation among international law enforcement agencies, elicited a complex response.
“A Red Notice is a request to provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition issued by the General Secretariat upon the request of a member country based on a valid national arrest warrant. It is not an international arrest warrant”, a statement from Interpol’s press office said.
“The individuals concerned are wanted by national jurisdictions (or International Criminal Tribunals, where appropriate) and Interpol’s role is to assist national police forces in identifying or locating those individuals with a view to their arrest and extradition.”
The statement went on to say that interpretation of a red notice is left up to the country in which the suspect is found.
“Interpol cannot insist or compel any member country to arrest an individual who is the subject of a Red Notice. Nor can Interpol require any member country to take any action in response to another member country’s request.  Each Interpol member country decides for itself what legal value to give Red Notice within their borders.”
The statement from Interpol’s press office said that many of Interpol’s member countries  consider a Red Notice a valid request for provisional arrest, especially if they are linked to the requesting country via a bilateral extradition treaty. In cases where arrests are made based on a Red Notice, these are made by national police officials in Interpol member countries.
Gary Ferguson, 47, was found dead in Binotti’s Kyauktada apartment on 6 November with massive head and chest wounds. Binotti and Ferguson had been drinking together on 3 November before going back to Binotti’s apartment.
Neighbours in Kyauktada told reporters in November that they heard a loud ruckus in the early morning hours of 4 November involving two men and a woman.
They said Binotti and his girlfriend, Elsie Devolder, had rented the apartment about three months prior.
Devolder, a Belgian national, was apparently living with Binotti in his Glasgow apartment until two days ago.
Ironically, Binotti and Devolder lived less than a mile from a police station in Glasgow, according to the Scottish Sun.
Gary Ferguson, originally from Bangor, Northern Ireland, leaves behind a wife and a four-year-old son.
His brother, Martin Ferguson, said the delays in justice for his brother have been frustrating and, at times, infuriating.
“We really want to get him (Binotti) off the streets,” Martin Ferguson told the Global New Light of Myanmar yesterday.—Aye Min Soe contributed to this report.

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