Panama prepares to extradite former Mexican governor

Panama is preparing to extradite former Mexican governor of Quintana Roo Roberto Borge to Mexico, after it approved a request for his extradition on 15 December. Mexico accuses Mr Borge of corruption, money laundering, and fraud, including the sale of state-owned land at a fraction of its value. Mr Borge was arrested on 4 June 2017, and has since unsuccessfully taken a challenge against his extradition to Panama’s Supreme Court.

Greece grants asylum to pilot sought by Turkey on coup charges

Greece has granted asylum to the co-pilot of a helicopter used to fly 7 Turkish military officers to Greece last year following the failed 15 July coup. Turkey has long called for the co-pilot and the 7 officers to be extradited, a request that was blocked by Greece’s Supreme Court in January 2016 over fears that they would not receive a fair trial in Turkey. A decision on whether to grant the remaining 7 asylum is expected in the next few weeks.

Panama approves extradition of former Mexican governor Roberto Borge

Panama has approved the extradition of Roberto Borge to Mexico, where he was formerly governor of the state Quintana Roo and is accused of several offences including corruption and involvement in organised crime. Among other things, he is said to have sold state-owned properties at 1% of their value.

Mr Borge was first arrested in June when he tried to board a flight from Panama to Paris, and lost his final appeal against extradition in Panama’s Supreme Court on 11 December.

Bill Browder calls for Russia’s Interpol membership to be suspended

Bill Browder, who this week was sentenced in absentia by a Court in Moscow to 9 years imprisonment, has called on Interpol “to suspend Russia’s membership for flagrant abuse of the Interpol system” after Russia lodged its 6th request for his arrest and extradition. The previous 5 applications were turned down for being politically motivated.

The Russian court found Browder guilty of tax evasion and deliberate bankruptcy. His lawyers have said that he will appeal the ruling, which is based on allegations he has long said are motivated by revenge. Since his Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky’s death in a Moscow prison in 2009, which he believes to have been at the hands of Russian officials, Browder has led a successful global campaign for sanctions on those involved and on human rights abusers in Russia generally.

US extradites former Salvadoran military officer to Spain

The US has extradited former Salvadoran military officer Inocente Orlando Montano to Spain, where he faces charges for his alleged involvement in planning the 1989 massacre of 6 Jesuit priests and 2 others in El Salvador. A US court ruled last year that the evidence demonstrated his involvement in the plot, and this month the US Supreme Court dismissed his request that his extradition be stayed.
El Salvador has declined Spain’s requests for the extradition of other former officers allegedly involved in the killings.

Zimbabwe calls on Interpol to locate ex-ministers suspected of corruption

Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has called on Interpol to locate former cabinet ministers from Robert Mugabe’s administration who are believed to have stolen state assets during their time in power. Among those said to have been involved are Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, and Paddy Zhanda. All 3 were also key members of the group which planned for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as president.

Michael Herba wins right to appeal against extradition to Italy in Chloe Ayling case

Michael Herba, a suspect in the kidnapping of British model Chloe Ayling, has been granted the right to appeal against his extradition from the UK to Italy (see previous blog). Mr Herba maintains that the kidnapping itself was a sham, and that he was not involved in any event. Granting him leave to appeal, the High Court said that it was reasonably arguable that the Italian authorities had provided inadequate details of how Mr Herba was said to have participated the alleged kidnapping.

Mr Herba’s lawyers have said that they will renew their objection that the case is a sham, and will also argue that, if extradited, Mr Herba will not receive a fair trial.

Switzerland decides to lift asset freeze on former Egyptian president Mubarak & others

Switzerland’s government has decided to lift its asset freeze on the property of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and other officials connected to his administration. In a statement, the Federal Council said that in view of “the recent closing of the mutual legal assistance procedures between Switzerland and Egypt, the Federal Council decided to lift with immediate effect the freeze on assets in the context of this country”.

Switzerland’s decision follows Egypt dropping its investigations into several listed people, including the family of former president Mubarak.  Originally, the asset freeze covered around $700m, however over time that has been reduced to $435m. In order for the remaining assets to be unfrozen, the Federal Council’s decision must be approved by Switzerland’s federal prosecutor.

Spanish court approves extradition of 93 to China

Spain’s National Court has ruled in favour of extraditing 93 Chinese citizens to China, all of whom are suspected of involvement in Spanish gangs that defrauded people in China out of millions of pounds through telephone scams. Spain was notified about the scam over a year ago, and since that time cooperated with China to arrest 269 individuals.

Scottish court blocks extradition of man to UAE on Article 3 & 6 concerns

A Scottish court has blocked the extradition of a 64-year old man wanted by the UAE where he has been sentenced in absentia to 12 months imprisonment for allegedly embezzling $345,000. Garnet Black is said to have taken the money from the bank account of M&M Militzer & Münch LLC, an international logistics company based in Dubai, where he worked as managing director. He says the allegations, made by his former son-in-law, are false and intended to pressure his daughter to return to the UAE, after she fled the son-in-law with their child due to his alleged violence and abuse.

In his ruling, Sheriff Tom Walsh QC found that the UAE had not satisfied the statutory pre-requisite to extradition that it demonstrate free legal aid would be guaranteed to Mr Black if extradited. In addition, Sheriff Walsh found that there was a real risk Mr Black’s Article 3 right against inhuman treatment and Article 6 right to a fair trial may be violated, but rejected the argument that his article 5 right to freedom was at risk of violation.

Key to these findings was that, if extradited, Mr Black was likely to be housed in “the squalid, unhygienic, and overcrowded conditions of Bur Dubai Police Station”, without adequate medical provision, and the significant degree of influence his son-in-law was likely to have over local police as a high-ranking Emirati. In addition, there was no guarantee that Mr Black would be in physical condition to defend himself, and would struggle to do so in any event as a non-Arabic speaker without the guarantee of free legal representation.