Saunders Law secures discharge for client arrested on Greek European Arrest Warrant

On the 15th of April 2015 the representatives of the Greek Government formally confirmed that Greece would not be seeking to Appeal the decision of District Judge Snow to discharge Mr M from a European Arrest Warrant issued by the previous Greek Government.

The background to this case is that Mr M was on a family Holiday to Greece in 2004 during which he exchanged lb400.00 for ^a'not600.00. The fact that the ^a'not600.00 was made up of counterfeit notes was only discovered by Mr M when he tried to use one of them to buy food at a convenience store close to where he was staying on the Greek Island of Crete. Mr M reported the counterfeit currency to the Police and was subsequently arrested. Mr M spent almost six weeks in prison in Crete until ^a'not25,000.00 was paid by his family to secure his release. Mr M was told by his Greek Lawyer that paying the ^a'not25,000.00 his case would be concluded.

Mr M did not have the assistance of an English interpreter at any of his Court hearings in Crete and was assisted in understanding proceedings only through his Greek Lawyer who spoke some broken English.

Mr M was subsequently arrested in Sep 2014 on a European Arrest Warrant issued by Greece following his conviction in absence of possessing counterfeit currency. The Crete Courts waited until March 2013 to try Mr M in his absence and no effort was made to inform him that a trial would be taking place. The European Arrest Warrant was for Mr M's extradition to Crete in order to serve a 13 year sentence of imprisonment which had also been imposed in Mr M's absence.

Mr M instructed Mr Liam Gregory of Saunders Law to represent him at his first appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court. Mr Gregory succeeded in securing bail for Mr M at the first hearing and successfully built a case to resist extradition to Greece based upon extradition being a disproportionate interference with Mr M's right to a family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, that the sentence imposed was a disproportionate sentence and therefore breached article 49(3) of the Fundamental Charter of European Rights, that because of the state of Greek prisons Mr M's extradition to Crete would likely lead to mistreatment that would constitute a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and that given the failures by the Greek Government to inform Mr M that he was to be tried in his absence he needed to be guaranteed a right to a re-trial.

Thanks to the perseverance of Mr Gregory in tracking down a suitably qualified expert in Greek Prison conditions to provide a damning report on the conditions in Crete Prisons the case of Mr M was joined to that of five other defendants all of whom had been unable to secure their own expert to assist them on this key point in resisting the extradition warrant.

The case is particularly significant because as well as shining a bright light on the appalling prison conditions in Crete it was one of the first cases to argue that extradition to a foreign country would be in breach of an article of the Fundamental Charter of European Rights. The impact of the Fundamental Charter of European Rights on UK law is still being explored following the power of UK Courts and Tribunals to refer a question of European Law to the Court of Justice of the European Law as of the 1st of December 2014.


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