Extradition Avoided | Popoviciu v Curtea De Apel Bucharest | KANGS Extradition Solicitors
In the recent case of Popoviciu v Curtea De Apel Bucharest  UKSC 39, the Supreme Court considered whether an extradition request should be denied if the Trial Court where the conviction occurred was not deemed competent.
Hamraj Kang of KANGS explains the circumstances presented to the Supreme Court.
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Popoviciu v Curtea De Apel Bucharest | KANGS Extradition Solicitors
In 2017, Gabriel Popoviciu, one of Romania’s largest and most influential investors, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in Romania following conviction for offences of bribery and corruption arising from his acquisition of land for the purpose of building a Shopping Centre.
After Sentencing, Mr Popoviciu fled Romania to Monaco and then to the UK which resulted in the Romanian police issuing a European Arrest Warrant.
In 2019, District Judge Zani, at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, ordered Mr Popoviciu’s extradition to Romania.
Mr Popoviciu appealed to the High Court, arguing that his rights under Article 5 of The European Convention on Human Rights would be at risk upon deportation, maintaining that the Judge who oversaw the Trial at which he was convicted had a corrupt and improper relationship with the Trial Prosecution’s key witness.
These provide the right to liberty and security (Article 5) and the right to a fair trial (Article 6), subject to exceptions, inter alia, to the right to liberty following conviction by a competentcourt.
Mr Popoviciu argued to the High Court that as his right to a fair trial had been breached by, as he maintained, the corruption of his Trial Judge the Court was not a competentcourt and, consequently, an extradition would breach his right to liberty.
Additionally, since the Romanian courts would not consider this claim, he would be unable to challenge the fairness of his trial once deported, as required by Article 5(4) which states:
‘Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful’.
The High Court accepted this contention and denied extradition recognising the ‘substantial risk’ that Mr Popoviciu’s Article 5 rights might be breached.
Appeal to the UK Supreme Court
The Romanian Court of Appeal appealed to the UK Supreme Court which considered the High Court’s reasoning to deny the extradition.
The Supreme Court determined that the ‘substantial risk’ test was wrong. Instead, it held that it should have been decided on the ‘balance of probabilities’ whether the conviction was unjust.
The ‘balance of probabilities’ i.e. more likely than not, is the standard of proof required to be proven in civil law cases before UK Courts.
For an extradition to be denied on the grounds of the original trial having been unfair, the person opposing the Extradition Request would be required to show that it was more likely than not that their Trial was so unfair as to deprive them of their Article 6 right to a fair Trial.
Consequently, the High Court should have adopted the balance of probabilities approach and then, if it was found that the Trial was not more likely on balance to have been unfair, extradition should be allowed.
The only time a presumption of an unfair trial could be made would be where torture is shown to have occurred.
Remittance back to the High Court
The Supreme Court decided that the most appropriate action would be to remit the case back to the High Court for it to determine whether Romanian law was capable of providing a remedy if the Trial could be proven to have been flagrantly unfair.
In the event, by the time the Supreme Court Judgment was delivered, Romania had withdrawn the European Arrest Warrant with the result that Mr Popoviciu no longer faced extradition.
However, The Supreme Court issued its Ruling as guidance for the future.
How Can We Help? | KANGS Extradition Defence Solicitors
Extradition proceedings are extremely complicated and technical. The experienced Extradition Team at KANGS is accustomed to handling the most complex cases.
We appreciate the stress and pressure such proceedings can bring for individuals. Our Team provides advice, experience and in-depth knowledge on how to handle such proceedings and works towards securing the most favourable outcome for every client.
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