Extradition Set for St. Andrews Poisoning Case

     (CN) – An American student of the prestigious St. Andrews University in Scotland will be extradited to face charges that he spiked a classmate’s wine with antifreeze, a federal judge ruled.
     Alexander Hilton, a Princeton, Mass., native, was charged in the United Kingdom in December 2012 with the attempted murder of Robert Forbes, a fellow American student of St. Andrews University. The prestigious Scottish academy is regarded equally for its academics and status as the site where Prince William wooed Kate Middleton, now duchess of Cambridge.
     In March 2011, Hilton gave Forbes a bottle of red wine spiked with methanol, a major ingredient in antifreeze, and encouraged him to drink the entire bottle, U.K. investigators said.
     Though Forbes allegedly became sick from the cocktail and initially lost his eyesight, prompt medical treatment saved his life and his sight is gradually returning.
     Before Forbes’ condition was diagnosed, a search of Hilton’s dorm room found that he had done an online search of methanol poisoning, its long-term effects, and “methanol mixed with ethanol.” Investigators also found a plastic funnel and glass measuring jug, which Hilton claimed was for drinking games, the Boston Globe reported.
     After Scottish police interrogated him, Hilton asked and received a leave of absence from St. Andrews. He returned to the United States two weeks after the incident, where he has lived with his parents in Princeton. He was arrested there in February 2013, and the United States sought a certificate of extraditability on behalf of the U.K.
     U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal granted that certificate Friday, tossing aside concerns from Hilton’s psychiatrist that extradition would “greatly increase Hilton’s risk of committing suicide.”
     Dr. Judith Edersheim had testified at the extradition hearing in Boston that Hilton has a “serious illness, most likely a thought disorder,” and a history of suicidal thoughts. Edersheim also expressed concern that it would be hard for Hilton to create a new relationship with a psychotherapist in Scotland.
     Boal said the mental illness was immaterial to the extradition question.
     “Although the court appreciates the seriousness of Hilton’s mental health problems, it finds that it does not have the authority to consider them in its decision,” the ruling states. “Indeed, this argument is more appropriately presented to the secretary of state as this court’s jurisdiction is limited to ensuring that Hilton is subject to extradition.”
     There is no evidence that a trial in Scotland would violate Hilton’s constitutional rights, the judge found.
     “Although the First Circuit has recognized the possibility that ‘serious due process concerns may merit review beyond the narrow scope of inquiry in extradition proceedings,’ the issues raised by Hilton, namely the number of jurors required for a guilty verdict and right of witness confrontation, do not rise to that level,” Boal wrote. “Indeed, the First Circuit has observed that the United States ‘has maintained, over time, extradition treaties with some of the world’s most oppressive and arbitrary regimes.'”
     Boal stayed the extradition order for 60 days to let Hilton petition for writ of habeas corpus. He will remain free on bail during the proceedings.

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