Hong Kong’s first refusal of a US extradition bid

Yesterday, a US Department of State Annual report revealed that in October 2017, the leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, refused to extradite a detainee to the US. The detainee was placed in custody, in mainland China, and extradition was refused on the basis that Beijing was pursuing the detainee in relation to a separate criminal matter. This is the first time Hong Kong has refused to extradite a detainee to the US since the UK transferred sovereignty of Hong Kong to China in 1997. So far, the details of the Chinese criminal matter and the identity of the detainee remain unknown.

However, the South China Morning Post has uncovered evidence of a broken extradition negotiation in the New York bribery case of Patrick Ho Chi-ping, a former Hong Kong Home Affairs Minister. In that case Iat Hong, a hacker, was arrested in Hong Kong in December 2016. Hong was charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for hacking into unnamed New York law firms as part of an organised hacking group that made more than 4 million US dollars. The US tried to extradite Hong, but the extradition negotiation broke down in October 2017.

In 1997 Hong Kong and the US created a bilateral agreement which has resulted in Hong Kong being able to extradite detainees to the US, however the US and China do not currently share an extradition treaty. In the case of Patrick Ho Chi-ping, the US prosecutors explained that the agreement between Hong Kong and the US contains an exception that “relates to the defence, foreign affairs, or essential public interest or policy of [China]”.

 

Celmer: The protection of fundamental rights in Poland

This Friday the CJEU will be hearing evidence in the case of Artur Celmer, a Polish national who is wanted on drug trafficking charges. He is currently being held in an Irish prison on a European Arrest Warrant. The case was referred, by Justice Donnelly of the Irish High Court, to the CJEU on the question of whether the Polish justice system could protect Mr Celmer’s fundamental rights given that there has been a breakdown of the rule of law in Poland.

Lawyers for the Irish Attorney General, will argue that a fair trial in Poland is possible and therefore Mr Celmer should be extradited. Whereas Mr Celmer’s lawyers will be arguing that given the erosion of the Rule of Law, in Poland, Mr Celmer will not face a fair trial for the drug trafficking crimes he has been charged with.
In Poland this week, the Deputy Justice Minister accused the Irish High Court of playing “political games.” These comments were in response to Justice Donnelly’s previous suggestion that Polish legal reforms had bought the independence of the Polish judiciary into doubt and consequently undermined trust in the European Arrest Warrant system.

Manchester bombing suspect, Hashem Abedi, faces extradition hearing.

This week marked one year since the Manchester bombing. The only living suspect, Hashem Abedi, is currently being held in Libya by a militia group known as the Special Deterrence Force (SDF). Abedi was arrested by the SDF last May and the UK requested Abedi’s extradition last October, so that he could face charges relating to the Manchester Bombing that was carried out by his brother. However, it has since come to light that given he is a British and Libyan dual national, he could request, under Libyan Law, not to be extradited to the UK. Greater Manchester Police have explained that they believe Hashem Abedi helped to organise and prepare the explosives used by his brother to kill 22 victims last May.

If Abedi continues to refuse extradition to the UK, then he will face a full, contested, extradition hearing in Libya. Greater Manchester Police have said they are ready to provide evidence to help get Abedi extradited to the UK.

Germany begin planning to extradite Carles Puigdemont

On Tuesday, German prosecutors reported that they were going to apply to extradite Puigdemont to Spain, but a German court has said they will not imprison him whilst the extradition process is being carried out.
Puigdemont initially travelled to Belgium, from Spain, after Catalonia failed to gain independence from the state of Spain, last October. In March, Puigdemont crossed the Belgian border, into Germany, where he was arrested on a warrant issued by the Spanish court.

In April, the Spanish authorities attempted to have Puigdemont extradited to face charges of rebellion, which they insisted was due to his role in the Catalan Independence campaign. The German courts refused to extradite him on charges of rebellion but did say that they would extradite Puigdemont if the charges were lessened to misuse of public funds.

This week, prosecutors have asked for Puigdemont to be remanded in custody and have provided new evidence of violence against the police, in the wake of the failed Catalan independence bid, which they argue amounts to rebellion.
The German Court is yet to announce when it will rule on the extradition itself

Turkey refutes claims of negligence in use on INTERPOL Red Notices against FETÖ members

Yesterday Turkey’s Justice and Interior Ministries denied reports that they had been “negligent” in their pursuit of wanted FETÖ members. They explained that difficulties had been caused by complications with INTERPOL rather than deficiencies in the Turkish justice system.

After the 2016 coup, Turkey has sought to arrest and extradite anyone associated with FETÖ, a group linked to cleric Fetullah Gülen. Members’ passports were cancelled by the Turkish government; however, the INTERPOL General Secretariat removed Turkey’s authority to add data or circulate Red Notices on the INTERPOL database. Turkey has since accused INTERPOL of denying the actions of FETÖ members which they say amount to terrorism offences. Despite the complications, the Justice and Interior Ministries in Turkey have explained that they will continue to trace fugitives and have them returned to Turkey using “the reciprocity principle”.

South Africa and UAE draft agreement to extradite Guptas

The Justice Ministry in South Africa is in talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to bring the Guptas back to South Africa. The Guptas are three brothers of Indian heritage who moved to South Africa from India in 1993. There, they set up their business empire under the parent company Sahara Group. They have since been closely linked to former President Zuma, and have been accused of money laundering, collusion, fraud, corruption and misappropriating funds including millions of dollars’ worth of public money which was intended to support poor farmers but was directly deposited into Atul Gupta’s personal bank account. In February, the South African authorities raided the businesses and properties belonging to the Guptas which prompted them to leave for UAE. The talks between South Africa and UAE are not aimed at establishing an extradition treaty between the countries, but at reaching a “mutual legal agreement” applicable solely to the Guptas. Both South Africa and UAE want to ensure that the Guptas can be returned to South Africa to face the criminal charges outlined above.

Extradition of Catalan Separatists from Brussels.

Yesterday, a court in Brussels ruled that the Catalan Separatists: Toni Comín, Meritxell Serret and Lluis Puig should not be extradited to Spain. The decision from the Belgian Court marks another obstacle on the Spanish authorities’ course to extradite those who were involved in the Catalan independence vote last year. Comín, Serret and Puig are facing charges of misuse of public funds and rebellion. The decision not to extradite the Catalan Regional counsellors is significant because the judgment included a decision that the European Arrest Warrants issued, rescinded then reissued by the Spanish authorities for the arrests of the three councillors were not valid because they were not supported by corresponding new, domestic, Spanish arrest warrants.