Now that the Swedish Authorities have revoked the European Arrest Warrant that had been issued for his arrest, it might have been assumed that Julian Assange would be leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been living since 2012. It seems that he has no plans to do so, at least in the foreseeable future. His problem is that even though the EAW has been revoked, there is still a warrant outstanding for his arrest after he failed to appear at court. This is a separate offence, and is usually taken very seriously; he can be sent to prison for up to 6 months in the Magistrates Court. given the amount of resources that the Metropolitan police have spent on the case, he is almost certain to get a prison sentence if he is ever brought to court.
If he were given a prison sentence, then there seems to be no reason why the Swedish authorities could not re-issue a new EAW. They have made it clear that their decision to drop the EAW is not an indication that the investigation has ended; it is simply a practical decision. He would need to be produced at court and could expect to be refused bail as there are clearly sufficient grounds to believe that he might not attend if he were given bail. Alternatively, if the US authorities do want to take action against him as he fears they do, then they could start proceedings against him.
Whatever happens, it does not seem like Mr Assange will be leaving the embassy a free man at any time soon.Read More
If you are facing extradition it can be difficult enough, without listening to lawyers using words and phrase that you may not understand, even in your own language. Here is a guide to some of the most common words you will come across;
Requested person; the person who is wanted by the country who have issued the warrant.
Judicial Authority; The people who have issued the warrant. They are represented by Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
District Judge; usually called the ‘DJ’, he or she is a qualified lawyer who hears the case and makes the decisions.
European Arrest Warrant (EAW); the actual document that has all of the information about the person who is wanted, what they are wanted for and so on
Accusation; if you are wanted to go for a trial, and have not been found guilty already, you are ‘accused’
Conviction; if you have already pleaded guilty to the offence, or been found guilty, you are convicted
Bail; if the DJ decides you can go home until you are next in court or are being taken back to the country that wants you
Consent; at the beginning of the case you will be asked if you consent to your extradition. In other words do you agree to it? If you do, the DJ will order your extradition and that is the end of the case. You cannot appeal and you should be extradited within 10 days.
Issues; the reasons why you should not be extradited. The extradition Act lists the reasons that can be given, including Human Rights issues. ‘I don’t want to go’ is not a reason under the Act.
Full hearing; the hearing where the D J will hear the evidence, listen to the lawyers and then decide if you are going to be extradited.
Judgment; the D J writes down his decision. This is called the judgment, and it has the facts of the case, the arguments put forward by both sides, the law and the reasons for the decision.
Discharge; if the DJ decides you do not have to be extradited, you are discharged and are free to go
Permission to Appeal; if the DJ decides you should be extradited, you can ask the High Court for permission to appeal.Read More
Not many people know about the existence of European Arrest Warrant until the police arrive on their doorstep to arrest them, or they come into contact with the police for some other reason; either they are arrested for another offence, stopped and spoken to by police while they are driving, or sometimes when they themselves are a witness or a victim of crime. If you do know that there is an European Arrest Warrant (or an International Arrest Warrant from a country outside the European Union) it is often advisable to surrender yourself to your local police station or to Westminster Magistrates Court, as this will increase your chances of being granted bail later on.
For most people facing extradition proceedings, their arrest comes as a complete surprise.
It is likely that your arrest will be carried out by your local police force, who will often come to your home or place of work. You will be taken to your local police station where you will be “booked in”. During this procedure you must also be handed a copy of the arrest warrant. You can ask at the police station for legal advice, but it is likely that this will be provided over the telephone, and that you will not be able to speak to a solicitor of your choice. However, you should be able to speak to your family. They can contact us directly and arrange for us to attend the police station to offer you free independent legal advice.
If your passport or ID card has not been taken by the police, try to have it brought to the police station; you will need to give it to the police if you are given bail, and if the police can confirm they have it, this will save time later on.
Where ever you are in the country you must then be taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court “as soon as practicable.” In practice that means the same day if you are arrested very early in the morning, or you live near London. If not, it is likely to be the next day. Westminster is the only Magistrates Court in the country that deals with extradition cases. The Court is open Monday to Saturday, including Bank Holidays.
If you or your loved one faces extradition and would like expert advice or assistance, please call John Howey on 020 7388 1658, or email him at email@example.comRead More
Once your extradition is ordered, you have seven days to apply for permission to appeal. If you do not appeal, or you have appealed and your appeal has been refused, your extradition should take place within 10 days. That time can be extended, and often is. The country making the extradition request must apply to a Judge for an extension.
If you have not been extradited within 10 days, (and an extension had not been granted) you can apply to Westminster Magistrates Court to be discharged. If there is no good reason for the delay, then you should be discharged. It used to be that once the 10 days had expired it could not be extended. Unfortunately it can be, and once you apply to be discharged, there is nothing to stop the authorities making an application to extend the 10 day period.
We recently dealt with a case where extradition was ordered and the person did not turn up for his flight. He was arrested for theft a few weeks later and given a short prison sentence. He was brought to Westminster Magistrates Court and remanded in custody on his extradition case. It seems that the country that wanted him were not told he had been arrested and he was not extradited. We applied for him to be discharged, and he was. He was in fact in the departure area at Heathrow while we were in court, and some urgent messages had to be passed to stop him being put on the flight home.
Of course, just because you have been discharged, it does not always mean that you have nothing to worry about. The authorities in the country that wants you can reissue the warrant and the process simply starts again.
If you or someone you care about is facing extradition proceedings call our expert lawyers on 020 7388 1658, or email John Howey at firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More
Extradition and Article 8 of the Human Rights Act
Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which provides that everyone has a right to respect for his private and family life, is raised as a bar to extradition in a majority of cases. It is, of course, not an absolute right, as a public authority can interfere with the exercise of this right ‘in accordance with the law’ and where it is necessary, for amongst other things ‘the prevention of disorder or crime’.
There has now a substantial volume of case law dealing with Article 8 challenges and it is fair to say that the majority of it is in favour of extradition.
However, there are occasions when an Article 8 argument can be successful. As an example, I recently acted for a Polish lady, whose extradition was sought in relation to an offence of fraud committed in 2000. She had obtained a loan of about £500 from a bank in Poland by amending her pay slips and had not repaid the money. She had committed no other offence in Poland, or in this country, where she had lived since 2005. She was originally given a suspended sentence of 8 months imprisonment. One of the conditions was that she repaid the money. Unfortunately she did not repay the money and the suspended sentence was activated.
I successfully argued that returning her to Poland to serve her sentence would be a disproportionate breach of her article 8 rights. The District Judge took into account the fact that she would be unlikely to have received a custodial sentence in this country, and that she had now repaid the money.
As a result, the client is now continuing to live her law abiding life in this country; and she got a costs order in her favour, so she was able to get some of her costs back!
England and Wales have the highest alcohol tolerance for drink-driving in Europe. To be guilty of drink-driving, a person must have more than 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath or 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine. In Scotland, the limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The only other European country with the same limit as England and Wales is Malta.
Some European countries have different limits for the type of driver. A lower alcohol limit is usually set for commercial drivers or newly qualified drivers. Other countries such as Romania and Croatia, have a zero tolerance to alcohol and any alcohol found in the blood will be a drink-driving offence.
In extradition proceedings, the Judge must be satisfied that the offence committed in the other European country is also considered a criminal offence in the UK. Therefore, many who have been arrested for drink-driving in zero-tolerance countries may not necessarily be guilty of an offence in England and Wales. If that is the case, then extradition cannot take place.
A further complication arises as many of our European counterparts have a different method of recording blood alcohol content found in drink-drivers. Romania, Poland and Lithuania do so as a percentage and it is not clear what that translates to compared to the readings used in England and Wales. Often at full hearings, there are arguments as to the correct calculation and translation into micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of blood from the different expression as found in the European Arrest Warrant.
The Crown Prosecution Service is responsible for providing this calculation and translation in each individual case. If they fail to do so, a Requested Person might be discharged as the District Judge cannot be sure that the offending behaviour corresponds to a criminal offence in England and Wales. As Mr Justice Blake says in Czech Republic v Kolman  EWHC 302 (Admin), District Judges ‘should not also need to become part-time experts in bio-chemistry.’
Can I get bail in my Extradition case?
The short answer is yes, you can. Whether you do or not will depend on a lot of things.
If you are wanted to stand trial for an offence, you have a much better chance of being granted bail than if you have been found guilty and have a sentence to serve. If you are wanted to serve a sentence, the longer it is the less chance you will have of being granted bail. Even if you have not been convicted, the more serious the offence, the less likely you are to be given bail.
Apart from the offence, the sorts of things that the Judge will think about when deciding whether to grant you bail will include;
- How long you have been in this country
- The circumstances in which you came to this country. For example did you come to this country the day after you were arrested in your own country, or were you never actually arrested?
- Your situation in this country; are you working? Do you have family and in particular children who depend on you? Have you got an address you have lived at for a long time? can you be given a curfew there, so the authorities know where you are at certain times of the day?
- Have you committed offences in this country, or have you shown that you can abide by the law since you got here?
- Can you hand in your passport and your ID documents, so you cannot leave the country?
But the most important thing is whether someone can pay a security for you. This is a sum of money, the more the better, that is paid to the court. As long as the person attends court when they are supposed to, and if they are to be extradited they turn up where they are supposed to be, the money will be given back. If the person does not turn up, some or in most cases all of it will be kept by the court.Read More
On 15th March, the High Court granted permission to appeal to a number of appellants who have once again raised the dire state of Romanian prison conditions. However, permission to appeal is limited to people who have been sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment or less. Presently, Romania has given an assurance to the UK that those who serve 3 years or less will be placed in prison cells with at least 2 square metres in semi-open prison conditions. Prisoners who face more than 3 years’ imprisonment will be detained in closed conditions where Romania has guaranteed them individual space of at least 3 square metres.
The High Court relied on the case of Mursic v Croatia, a Grand Chamber decision in the European Court of Human Rights. In Mursic v Croatia, it was decided there is a presumption of risk of degrading treatment if a prisoner is placed in a cell with less than 3 square metres of individual space. The Government then has an obligation to prove to the Court how this cell is compatible with the prisoner’s human rights.
What this means is that anyone facing extradition to Romania to serve a sentence of 3 years or less, or accused of an offence carrying a maximum sentence of 3 years or less, will not be extradited until the appeal is heard. It is likely that this will not be for at least two months, and possibly much longer if there is an appeal to the Supreme Court.
If you or someone you know are facing extradition to Romania, please contact us on 020 73881658 or by email, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More
WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR THE EAW AFTER BREXIT?
The European Arrest Warrant is a tool used very often by Governments within the EU to secure the arrest and extradition of people who have committed or are accused of committing crimes in their own country.
Some countries confine their use of the EAW to very serious offences such as people trafficking or murder. Others adopt a hard-line approach and will issue an EAW for what may seem trivial such as shoplifting or a simple possession of cannabis.
Notwithstanding the difference in approaches, the UK government accepts that the EAW is instrumental in fighting cross-border crime and presently at least, is keen to remain part of the EAW post-Brexit.
If the UK is not part of the EAW, then any requests for a extradition to and from the UK will most likely follow the system we currently have for non-EU countries; this is a more onerous and costly route than the EAW.
If the UK continues to be part of the EAW, in all likelihood, they will have to submit to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) This will no doubt prove unpopular with those seeking a clean break from the EU, or ‘hard-Brexit’.
The ECJ has made important interpretations on the framework decision relating to the EAW. Kovalkovas [C-477/16 PPU] is a case brought by the Government of the Netherlands and decided by the ECJ in November 2016. The ECJ concluded that a Ministry of Justice was not a Judicial Authority for the purposes of an EAW and therefore cannot issue a valid EAW. This contradicted the UK Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 (case of Bucnys v Ministry of Justice Lithuania  UKSC 71. As a result of the ECJ’s decision, it was binding on all EU countries including the UK. The UK Courts and the CPS had to disregard Bucnys.
It is unworkable for the UK to remain part of the EAW after Brexit, yet be excluded from the jurisdiction of the ECJ. The UK will have to choose.Read More