Honeymoon killer faces deportation from Australia

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An American convicted of killing his wife during a honeymoon scuba dive was released from an Australian jail yesterday and taken into immigration custody, where he will remain until officials are convinced he will not face the death penalty if sent home.

Australia is a staunch opponent of the death penalty and is seeking assurances that Gabe Watson will not face capital charges if he is returned to Alabama, a pro-death penalty state that wants to try him again over his wife's death. Watson, called the Honeymoon Killer by the Australian media, pleaded guilty to manslaughter of 26-year-old Tina, his wife of 11 days, during a 2003 scuba diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef.

Officials in Queensland state initially charged him with murder, saying he killed Tina by turning off her air supply and holding her underwater. Watson pleaded guilty to a lesser charge last year in an Australian court and was sentenced to 18 months, a punishment Tina's family and Alabama authorities said was far too lenient.

Queensland coroner David Glasgow said a possible motive for the killing was Tina Watson's modest life insurance policy. A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said Watson will be held at the detention centre until Australia is assured he will not face the death penalty back home.