CANBERRA, Australia – An American man convicted of manslaughter in his wife’s honeymoon death was deported today from Australia to the United States, where he is likely to face murder charges for the 2003 drowning.
Gabe Watson, 33, boarded a flight from Melbourne accompanied by Immigration Department staff and Queensland state police officers, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said.
Watson had been in immigration custody since completing an 18-month prison sentence earlier this month. Australia, a staunch opponent of capital punishment, delayed his deportation until it received a pledge from the U.S. government that it would not seek the death penalty against Watson.
Prosecutors in Alabama, Watson’s home and a pro-death penalty state, want to try him again over his wife’s death, and are expected to seek murder charges.
Bowen said Watson returned voluntarily after both Alabama and U.S. federal authorities guaranteed that he would not face the death penalty.
Under Australia’s Extradition Act, a person cannot be deported to face prosecution on a capital charge unless there is an assurance the death penalty will not be imposed.
Watson was dubbed the “Honeymoon Killer” by the Australian media after his wife of 11 days, 26-year-old Tina Watson, drowned during a 2003 scuba diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef with her husband.