A 26-year-old British man wanted for the murder of a compatriot in Myanmar is living freely in Scotland because the Southeast Asian nation has yet to request his arrest and extradition, according to UK authorities.
The revelation raises fresh questions over Myanmar’s lukewarm response to the death of Gary Ferguson, 47, whose battered body was found inside his Yangon apartment in November.
Harris Binotti, is alleged to have killed Ferguson – a fellow teacher at an international school in Myanmar – after an argument.
Binotti fled Myanmar soon after Ferguson’s death.
But in the last week he was photographed by a British newspaper living openly in Scotland, prompting his victim’s family to ask why he was not already in custody.
Scottish prosecutors and police say they are yet to receive any extradition request from Myanmar, the investigating country.
“Police Scotland has no authority to arrest anyone at this stage,” Scotland’s police force said in a statement, adding it would “monitor any ongoing risk” Binotti might pose.
“The matter is being investigated by the Myanmar authorities and it is for them to comment on any extradition request,” the Crown Office, Scotland’s prosecution department, added.
Binotti was only placed on Interpol’s “Red Notice” wanted list in April, some five months after the murder.
But Myanmar would still need to request UK authorities to make an arrest and extradite, a process that would require them to submit some of the evidence against Binotti and make diplomatic representations.
British police would also need assurances the death penalty was off the table as they are banned for helping with any capital punishment cases.
Police in Myanmar were unable to say what steps had been taken to pursue the suspect overseas.
Britain and Myanmar do not share an extradition treaty, however, individual cases can still be negotiated between the countries.
Toe Myo, a police officer in Yangon’s Kyauktada Township, where the murder took place, said his department had filed an arrest warrant that was sent to the national police in the capital Naypyidaw.
“We collected as much information as we could about the case and sent it there,” he told AFP.
However police in Naypyidaw directed AFP’s enquiries back to police in Yangon.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a government spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesperson for Britain’s Foreign Office said London was “in contact with the Burmese authorities responsible for the investigation” but declined to say how far the discussion had progressed.
Ferguson’s relatives, who lobbied Myanmar for months to contact Interpol, have released anguished statements at their perceived lack of progress in the case.