• The news has just arrived that Andrew Symeou has been cleared by a Greek court of manslaughter. Mr Symeou was accused of manslaughter in 2009 after a holiday in Zante. The identification evidence against him was contradictory, the witness statements appeared to have been written by the police, and two of his friends who were forced to sign statements immediately renounced them with the British Consulate claiming they were mistreated and physically abused by the police.
However under the European Arrest Warrant the British court had no right or power to take into account the prima facie evidence against him and were powerless to prevent his extradition, which under the EAW has been reduced to a mere bureaucratic formality. For eleven months he was kept the Korydallos prison which is a hell-hole and rated fourth worst in the world by Amnesty International. For the last year he was granted bail and has been living in Athens awaiting his long delayed trial.
Three things to say here:
1) Any British citizen can now be 'judicially surrendered' any other EU country without a British court having the power to prevent their extradition, even when it is obvious that a gross injustice is being done. This is courtesy of the EU doctrine of 'mutual recognition that says all EU legal, judicial and police systems are of equal value. And courtesy of the Lib-Dem, Conservative and Labour MEPs who voted for this abominable legislation in the European Parliament.
2) Commiserations to the parents of the manslaughter victim Jonathan Hiles who after three years are no closer to knowing who was responsible for their son's death and seeing him brought to justice. If a British court had been able to consider the prima facie evidence they would probably have shown that Mr Symeou was not a viable suspect and a police investigation could have been resumed to find the real culprit. I feel as sorry for the parents of Mr Hiles as for the Symeou family.
3) Mr Symeou's case is just one of many, and a growing number, where people are being sent off to foreign prison systems and judicial systems without a British court having the most basic powers to protect their interests. My opposition to the EAW, and the whole creation of an EU system of criminal law, isn't about protecting criminals but about protecting the most basic freedoms of British citizens from abitrary arrest and imprisonment.
I am currently finishing off a submission to the independent panel reviewing the European Arrest Warrant. This explains Mr Symeou's case, and many like him, and calls on the Government to abolish the EAW and replace it with a fair extradition Act that protects the rights of British citizens.