Gary and Andrew

Andrew SymeouAndrew Symeou

We are told that our Prime Minister might, just might, be considering doing something about the proposed extradition of Gary McKinnon. This is a cause célèbre and highlights the asymmetric nature of the US/UK extradition Treaty. The Daily Mail has highlighted the campaign recently with a string of articles about the case, that has been going slowly through the courts for the last seven years.(And we laugh at countries like Italy and India for their lugubrious legal systems.) Most other papers and many influential people have voiced their unease and distaste at the case of Gary McKinnon.

For once I'm happy if the PM's spouse has an effect, she has had tea with Gary's mother and is a 'good egg' for refusing to eat veal and foie gras at official meals.

However, even if Gary is spared, another British man faces extradition. This time to the EU. To Greece, that fine democratic country with its excellent legal system!

Fair Trials International tells us about Andrew Symeneou: "Even the most superficial examination shows that the case against Andrew is built on a flawed police investigation, mistaken identity and conflicting evidence. There is no sense in surrendering this young man to Greece to fight this flimsy case in a foreign court".

Fair Trials International writes that:

Over the last ten years, the European Union has changed the face of criminal justice within Europe. Each year thousands of people are transferred under Europe’s fast-track system of extradition to face trials in a foreign country. Police and courts are increasingly sharing criminal records data and evidence. European cooperation can help in the fight against crime, making it easier to bring to justice those convicted or suspected of criminal activity. But cooperation must not be at the expense of basic principles of justice and fairness.

Fair Trials International’s own casework has repeatedly demonstrated the human cost of existing measures like the European Arrest Warrant (EAW): people sent to the other side of Europe for the most minor offences, sent to serve prison sentences imposed after grossly unfair trials. Our cases provide compelling evidence of the need to improve fair trial rights across the Union. Sadly, to date, countries like the UK have vetoed efforts to improve standards of justice across Europe, choosing instead to place blind faith in the capacity of other legal systems in Europe to deliver justice.

All that is required for the deportation of a suspect under an EAW is basic information about their identity and the alleged offence. There are thirty-two categories of crime for which extradition may be sought, some of them not specific offences under English law. Labour and the Lib Dem MEPs voted for fast-track extradition without trial in the European Parliament. They both like to criticise other parties for having 'intolerant' views but pure cruelty is OK?

See also Open Europe.