I am glad to report another successful extradition case in which I provided legal representation to a Ukrainian citizen with two of my fellow lawyers. Turkmenistan requested the extradition of my client from Hungary.
The request for extradition
The Turkmen indictment against my client was that he helped the former Turkmen deputy prime minister laundering huge amount of money through his Ukrainian company, which the former prime minister had obtained through bribery.
For this reason, the Turkmen Chief Prosecutor accused and requested extradition of my client abuse of power, bribery, forgery of public documents as, embezzlement and money laundering.
Double criminality and examination of political thread in the extradition proceedings
Extradition from Hungary may only be granted if the offence is punishable also under Hungarian criminal law. Therefore, the Metropolitan Court firstly had to take a position on double criminality. The Metropolitan Court established that the facts described in the request for extradition – in case they are true – constitute the offense of money laundering exceeding a particularly high value. But references made by the Turkmen prosecutor to the offences of abuse of power, bribery forgery of public documents are groundless.
If extradition violates international law
However, in the case, the defence took the view that the legal conditions for the extradition request were not met because its execution was in violation of international conventions. We also argued that the extradition would also violate the constitutional order of Hungary. Our argumentation also included that nevertheless the act on which the extradition is, in the strict sense, a common criminal offence, but it is also a crime closely linked to politics. We also argued that the health of our client does not allow for extradition either.
What substantiates the danger of torture and ill-treatment?
We have supported our position on extradition with a large number of international legal documents from relevant and reliable sources. We referred to reports from the UN Committee against Torture and the Commission on Human Rights that there was an imminent risk of torture or ill-treatment if our client was extradited. We also referred to the Strasbourg judgments, all of which show that our client’s case would not be decided by an independent court and that a fair trial would not be ensured.
The Strasbourg practice on extradition to Turkmenistan
The Metropolitan Court, as the court of first instance in the extradition case, attached the greatest importance to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Kolesnik v. Russia. According to this, there was a serious risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment of all suspects detained in criminal cases. Turkmenistan does not have an effective system to prevent torture. Prison conditions are poor; prisons are unhealthy, overcrowded and unsafe. The judiciary is not independent, subordinate to the president and corrupt. Trials of politically sensitive cases are not public.
In the Allanazarova v. Russia, the Kolesnik v. Russia, the Soldatenko v. Ukraine, the Riabikine v. Russia and the Garabaïev v. Russia cases the Strasbourg court also found a risk of torture and ill-treatment and discrimination against non-Turkmen people. In addition, the Turkmen authorities do not allow the inspection of prisons by international or non-governmental observers. On this basis, he concluded that anyone detained in Turkmenistan on criminal charges was subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention.
The issue of guarantees in the extradition proceedings
The European Court of Human Rights has also pointed out in its judgements concerning Turkmenistan that the assurances and guarantees given by the Turkmen Prosecutor General are insufficient and unreliable. Objective verification of guarantees is not possible. The Turkmen authorities refuse to submit to international monitoring mechanisms. Therefore, the assurances given by the Turkmen General Prosecutor’s Office cannot be considered reliable and do not eliminate the real risk of the accused being abused or treated in an inhumane and degrading manner.
An extradition which would be an infringement of international law and public order of Hungary
In view of the above, the court found that the execution of the extradition would be in breach of the International Convention of Human Rights. Furthermore, according to the Constitution of Hungary no one shall be expelled or extradited to a State where he or she would be in danger of being sentenced to death, subject to torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Therefore, the extradition would infringe Hungarian public and constitutional order.
The Court’s order on the extradition
Due to the above, the Metropolitan Court found that the legal conditions for extradition were not met, as it would be contrary to both the international law and public order in Hungary. For this reason, he ordered the immediate release of our client, who had been under arrest until then.
Read my articles on extradion
You can find my English articles here
The decisions of the strasbourg court can be found here