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Author Topic: 'Honeymoon Killer' in limbo as Australia jail term ends  (Read 719 times)

'Honeymoon Killer' in limbo as Australia jail term ends
« on: November 11, 2010, 08:52:22 PM »
'Honeymoon Killer' in limbo as Australia jail term ends

AFP - Thursday, November 11

SYDNEY (AFP) - – An American jailed over his wife's death on a honeymoon diving trip left prison Thursday but remained in custody as Australia seeks pledges he will not face execution if deported to the United States.

Bubble-wrap salesman David "Gabe" Watson, dubbed the "Honeymoon Killer" by media after admitting his wife's manslaughter on the Great Barrier Reef in 2003, was in immigration detention after being freed from a northeastern jail.

Australia is seeking written guarantees Watson, who served just 18 months, will not risk the death penalty if he faces trial in his home state of Alabama.

"I'd like to know, to be honest, how long it's all going to take," said Watson's Australian lawyer, Adrian Braithwaite.

"And when I requested information, the best I could get was it could take weeks or months, to use an exact phrase."

Diving novice Christina Watson, 26, drowned after her husband, an experienced rescue diver, failed to inflate her buoyancy vest or remove weights to bring her to the surface and instead went to get help.

Christina was pulled from the ocean floor by a diving instructor. The couple had been married just 11 days and were honeymooning on the world-famous reef.

An inquest heard earlier that a fellow diver saw Gabe Watson bear-hugging his wife underwater before he re-surfaced while she sank to the ocean floor.

In mid-2008, coroner David Glasgow found it was likely Watson killed his wife by holding her underwater and turning off her air supply, adding he may have been seeking a life insurance payout.

At a later trial Watson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and, after an appeal, was jailed for 18 months, a sentence which he has now served.

Australia has received assurances over Watson from Alabama Attorney-General Troy King, but wants a further, written guarantee from US Attorney-General Eric Holder, which could take weeks or months to obtain.

Australian law prevents suspects from being surrendered for extradition if it could result in their death.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen denied media reports that Watson was asked to sign his "death warrant" when given a document outlining a possible death sentence if he returns to the United States.

"My understanding is he had indicated to the (immigration) department that he was interested in returning voluntarily to the United States," Bowen said.

"The department did the right thing and provided him with a document to put that in writing, and made sure as part of that process that he was aware of any risk that might go with capital punishment.

"So they asked him to assure the department that he was fully aware of the risks; that is appropriate."

Meanwhile, Christina's father, Tommy Thomas, said he was "disappointed" Watson had been charged with manslaughter in Australia rather than murder.

"Had he not been allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter, had he been forced to face evidence before a jury in Australia, then that would have been our best chance," Thomas told public broadcaster ABC.

"There's an old saying, justice delayed is justice denied."
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