Konecny loses appeal against extradition to the Czech Republic

Mr Konecny appealed against his extradition from the UK to the Czech Republic on a conviction EAW.  He had been convicted in his absence in 2008 of three fraud offences and sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment. The Administrative Court dismissed his appeal, in Konecny v District Court Czech Republic [2017] EWHC 2360 (Admin).

Passage of time

It was agreed that Mr Konency was not a fugitive and was unaware of his conviction and sentence in the Czech Republic until his arrest in 2017.  He submitted that the ‘passage of time’ the court should consider under s14(b) EA 2003 started running from the date of the commission of the first offence, namely November 2004.  He also submitted that extradition would be unjust due to passage of time because it appeared that the Czech authorities had lost documents that demonstrated his innocence.

The court held that the operative date was when the appellant became unlawfully at large, which was an objective state to which his knowledge was irrelevant: “Accordingly, in my judgment, the fact that the Appellant was unaware of his conviction and sentence in the Czech Republic until 2017 is irrelevant to the question of when he became unlawfully at large. In accordance with Wiszniewski he became unlawfully at large upon the date when a lawful sentence was imposed upon him in respect of his convictions for fraud. The date when that sentence was imposed was 12 May 2008.

The court also held that extradition would not be unjust because “I am entitled to infer and do infer that the evidence presented to the court justified the convictions. Upon his return to the Czech Republic the Appellant can exercise his right to have a re-trial if so advised and I must assume or infer that such a trial will be fair within Article 6 ECHR. That being so the production of the Appellant’s documents will, if he is correct, result in his acquittal. If they are not adduced in evidence the reason for that state of affairs will be examined critically and the Appellant’s right to a fair trial respected.”

Neither did the effects of extradition reach the high bar necessary to show oppression.  The effects of delay were best dealt with under Article 8.

Article 8 ECHR

The District Judge was entitled to treat the Czech authorities’ description of Mr Konecny as a “particularly dangerous recidivist” as a factor in favour of extradition despite his good character and employment in the UK since 2007.  The lengthy sentence and right to a retrial also favoured extradition.  The delays in issuing the EAW in the Czech Republic (2013) and certifying it in the UK (2017) were unexplained, troubling and “a powerful factor militating against extradition” but ultimately it could not be said that the District Judge was wrong to find that his Article 8 rights to a private and family life did not outweigh the public interest in extradition.

French Court of Appeal allows Argentina’s request for extradition of Mario Sandoval

The French courts have focused on one particular case of abuse – the disappearance of Hernan Abriata, a 25-year-old architecture student whose body has never been found.  The Court of Appeal determined that, because Abriata’s body has never been found and no witnesses have attested to his death, the offence is ongoing and therefore no statute of limitations applies.

However, Mr Sandoval claims that he has been a victim of mistaken identity and has indicated he will appeal the Court’s ruling. Thereafter, the Prime Minister of France would still have to approve the extradition, after which Mr Sandoval will be able to challenge that decision before France’s Council of State.

Greek court rules in favour of US in competing extradition claim with Russia

Although Vinnik denies all US charges against him, saying he was merely a technical consultant for BTE-e, he has said he is willing to return to Russia to be tried on less serious fraud charges. This is not the first occasion on which Russia has contested a US extradition request for a Russian national by lodging its own competing request (see previous blog).

Nigeria halts pursuit of ex-minister’s extradition in light of ongoing UK investigation

In September, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced that it was seeking the extradition of former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke from the UK to face allegations of corruption (see previous blog). However, the Nigerian government has now said that it would not be pursuing Ms Alison-Madueke’s extradition for the time being in order to avoid jeopardising an ongoing UK investigation into similar allegations.

The UK’s National Crime Agency obtained permission to seize £27,000 from Diezani in early October 2017, but the investigation into her conduct is reported to involve properties worth several million pounds, which are currently subject to a freezing order granted in September 2016. The US Department of Justice identified approximately $144m of assets in July 2017 that it alleged were bought for Ms Alison-Madueke in return for lucrative contracts during her time overseeing Nigeria’s state-owned oil company (see press release here).

UK court rules that Birmingham imam may be extradited to Spain

A UK court has ruled that Birmingham-based imam Tarik Chadlioui may be extradited to Spain, where he is accused of producing videos encouraging people to fight for ISIL in Syria. His lawyers argued that extraditing him would breach his Article 8 right to a family life, as his family’s sole source of income. However, the Court found that “the seriousness of the offence and the public interest in upholding [the UK’s] extradition agreement outweigh the interference with Mr Chadloui and his family’s rights”. It said that it was important that the UK was not regarded “as a foreign haven for those avoiding prosecution in foreign jurisdictions”.

The Court also noted that, in the event Mr Chadloui was extradited, the family would be eligible for benefits, the mosques at which he preached were likely to support them, and his 17 and 18 year old children could seek work if necessary.