US fugitive, wanted in Tonga, detained without bail

A federal court in Hawaii has ruled to detain without bail a United States citizen wanted in Tonga for the murder of his wife.

Dean Jay Fletcher was arrested in Tonga in July for the murder but in September he escaped police custody on Vava'u.

RNZ reports the 54 year-old then fled the country on his yacht, eventually arriving in American Samoa, where he was arrested.

An American Samoa court dismissed a midemeanour charge of entering the territory without authorisation.

However, Mr Fletcher was last week handed over the federal authorities, who transferred him to Honolulu to face the extradition process back to Tonga.

A detention hearing was held Friday afternoon at the Honolulu Federal Court, where Mr Fletcher was determined a flight risk and danger to the community, and was remanded in custody.

A United States attorney, Larry Butrick, said Mr Fletcher posed a real risk as he is accused of bludgeoning his wife to death on his boat in full view of multiple witnesses.

Mr Fletcher's extradition hearing will be heard on January 10, where a court would determine if Tonga had complied with the requirements for Mr Fletcher's extradition.

The United States and Tonga have had an extradition treaty since 1931, which was amended in 1977, according to federal court documents.

Photo: Tauva Esera (Dean Jay Fletcher taking a nap after arriving from Tonga in Pago Pago)