On 7 July 2015, the High Court dismissed the appeal of Wieslaw Kazimierz Lezon, against his extradition from the United Kingdom to Poland, to serve two sentences of 18 months’ imprisonment, for fraud committed in 2001 and 2002. The Court held that his extradition would not violate Articles 6 or 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The judgment is here.
In 2002 and 2003, Mr Lezon was convicted of a total of seven “fraud” offences, committed in Poland in 2001 and 2002, and two sentences of 18 months’ imprisonment were imposed.
Up until 29 April 2005, Mr Lezon unsuccessfully attempted to appeal both sentences. On 28 May 2005, Mr Lezon travelled to Italy, which he was not permitted to do, before travelling to the UK, where he settled with his wife in 2006. On 4 April 2006, the Regional Court at Tarnow, in Poland, issued a ‘conviction’ European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for Mr Lezon’s arrest. This EAW was never acted upon; no reasons were given by Polish judicial authorities for this.
On 7 April 2014, a second ‘conviction’ EAW was issued by the Regional Court of Tarnow for Mr Lezon’s arrest, replacing the EAW issued in 2006. Mr Lezon was arrested in the UK on 20 November 2014. He appealed the decision of District Judge Coleman, who ordered his extradition to Poland, from the UK. He appealed on two grounds:
- Extradition would violate Article 6 ECHR. First, his trial and appeal in Poland was presided over by an “assessor”, who was not a full-time independent judge with security of tenure, and was influenced by an allegedly corrupt prosecutor. Secondly, the “flagrant denial of a fair trial in the requesting country” test, laid down in Soering, was not the appropriate standard between a citizen of an EU Member State, sought by another EU Member State, applying Radu. Thirdly, the “flagrant denial” test could not be applied to Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (the Charter), again applying Radu. Fourthly, giving effect to the judgment in Poland would run counter to public policy.
- Extradition would violate Article 8 ECHR. First, the Judge failed to take into account the fact that he had assisted the authorities in relation to the allegedly corrupt prosecutor. Secondly, there was no explanation for the delay between the first EAW, issued in 2006, and the EAW issued in 2014.
Lord Justice Aikens and Mr Justice Cranston held:
- If the trial and appeal process was “flagrantly unfair” and that had resulted in Mr Lezon’s conviction and sentence, then his extradition to Poland could amount to a “flagrant breach” of his Article 5(1)(a) ECHR right to not be unlawfully detained. Othman; Ullah applied. In the present appeal, Mr Lezon appealed both trial decisions before Circuit Judges with security of tenure, and he therefore did not pass the “flagrant breach” test. Urban; Wisniewski and Powierza applied. The allegedly corrupt prosecutor did attempt to interfere with the grant of a visa or passport for Mr Lezon and his wife. However, there is no evidence that he had any influence on the trials or appeals of Mr Lezon. Fenyvesi applied. There was also no factual basis on which to rely on Radu, concerning the test to apply to Article 6 ECHR and Article 47 of the Charter. Further, the Extradition Act 2003 does not provide that a breach of the Charter could be a bar to extradition in a Part 1 extradition case. Finally, the public policy argument was rejected.
- The District Judge did not consider the assistance Mr Lezon had provided to authorities in the past; however, this had no bearing on the balancing exercise under Article 8 ECHR, and whether interference by the authority now is disproportionate. Celinski applied. As for the issue of delay, Mr Lezon is a fugitive, and the Polish authorities were not “dilatory” in seeking him out.