Adamek v Czech Judicial Authority

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
JudgeLord Justice Burnett,Mrs Justice Thirlwall
Judgment Date08 November 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] EWHC 3519 (Admin)
Date08 November 2016
Docket NumberCO/3115/2016

[2016] EWHC 3519 (Admin)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

DIVISIONAL COURT

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand

London WC2A 2LL

Before:

Lord Justice Burnett

Mrs Justice Thirlwall

CO/3115/2016

Between:
Adamek
Appellant
and
Czech Judicial Authority
Respondent

Mr R Dacre (instructed by Sonn MacMillan Walker) appeared on behalf of the Appellant

Miss J Farrant (instructed by CPS Extradition Unit) appeared on behalf of the Respondent

Lord Justice Burnett
1

On 14 June 2016 District Judge Jabbitt, in a decision handed down by one of his colleagues, ordered the extradition of the appellant to the Czech Republic. The appellant is wanted on a conviction European Arrest Warrant, issued on 1 February 2016 and certified by the National Crime Agency on 27 February 2016, in respect of a total of seven offences for which he was convicted in his absence by the District Court in Karvina. He was sentenced to a total of two years' imprisonment. Before the district judge, the appellant had contended that his surrender to the Czech Republic would involve violations of his rights under Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and that the district judge should have discharged him. Permission to appeal was granted by the single judge, who observed that she considered that the arguments he wished to advance were "just arguable".

2

Mr Dacre, who has appeared on behalf of the appellant this morning, has advanced arguments by reference to both Article 3 and Article 8, relying in part on fresh evidence, to which I shall return. Despite the attractive and appropriately moderate way in which he has advanced those arguments, in my judgment, on examination of all of the circumstances of this appellant, this appeal must fail. The appeal raises no new points of law. I shall endeavour to state my conclusions and the reasons supporting them in relatively short order.

3

The appellant was born on 9 March 1988. Four of the offences in respect of which he was convicted were committed in January and February 2009. The first two involved fraud in obtaining motor cars and between them resulted in the loss of about £7,500. The third offence involved the obtaining of a loan of about £500 with false identity documents. The fourth offence concerned the fraudulent adoption of a phone contract resulting in the loss of just under £400. The fifth, sixth and seventh offences were committed in February and March 2011. The fifth involved the fraudulent hiring of two Segway machines. The loss was modest, amounting to no more than perhaps £65. The sixth and seventh offences were commercial burglaries resulting in the theft of alcohol and chocolate, with a value of about £250. The appellant was finally sentenced on 7 March 2014, having been convicted in his absence in respect of the first tranche and second tranche of offences separately. The judgment became final in the Czech Republic on 29 March 2014.

4

There is no dispute that the appellant fled the Czech Republic to the United Kingdom via Poland, fully aware of the outstanding matters against him. He was represented in the criminal proceedings in the Czech Republic by a lawyer, but, as I have indicated, did not attend his trials. The evidence he placed before the district judge shows that he explicitly accepts that he is guilty of a number of those offences. He avers that he was present when others were committed. Overall, he seeks to mitigate his responsibility for what occurred, in particular by reference to the proposition that an uncle pressured him into his involvement.

5

His arguments before the district judge, which have been repeated and augmented in ways I shall come to by Mr Dacre before this court, are relatively straightforward. In respect of Article 3, the appellant suggests that were he to be returned to the Czech Republic, he would be at risk of being attacked or killed by his uncle Robert Mikula, for whom, he suggests, he committed these offences (to the extent that he accepts that he did so). In a statement placed before the district judge, the appellant suggested that his uncle was a professional criminal who had the local police force in his pocket. Following the appellant's arrest for the second series of offences in July 2011, he says he explained to the authorities that he had only become involved in the unlawful activity at the instigation of his uncle. He says that he told the police that his uncle was a dangerous and violent man.

6

In his statement to the district judge, which was confirmed in oral evidence, the appellant indicated that his uncle had become aware of the description which the appellant had given to the police of the circumstances in which he became involved in criminality. In his statement, the appellant says that his uncle threatened him, to the extent of taking him into woodland and forcing him to dig a grave. This behaviour was intended to, and indeed did, terrify the appellant. The consequence was that his mother arranged for him to fly to London from Krakow in Poland, to where she drove him. There is a marked lack of specificity about the details of that event, but it is said to have occurred in the autumn of 2011. The evidence suggests that the incident was not reported to the police in the Czech Republic.

7

On the basis of the threats made to him by his uncle, the appellant asserts that he fears that his life would be in danger should he be returned to the Czech Republic. He also asserts that the Czech authorities are not in a position to protect him. That is advanced as a proposition at a general level, but it is also advanced at a more specific level. It is said by the appellant that his uncle has corrupt public officials in his pocket.

8

Further information was provided by the Czech authorities in the course of the extradition proceedings which confirms that the appellant's uncle was indeed prosecuted following the appellant's flight from the Czech Republic. However, the evidence from the Czech authorities is that the uncle was acquitted. The appellant's statement to the police apparently formed part of the prosecution material.

9

The latest information that has been placed before this court by the appellant comes from his mother. That statement was apparently given in Czech, but has been translated. The versions we have are unsigned and undated, but Mr Dacre has assured us that a signed copy of the Czech version of the statement will be lodged with the court, together with an appropriate certificate of translation.

10

There is at least a question mark over whether the statement from the appellant's mother is properly admissible before us, applying the principles set out in the judgment of the President of the Queen's Bench Division in The Szombathely City Court v Roland Fenyvesi [2009] EWHC 231 (Admin). In my judgment it is appropriate, without deciding whether it is strictly admissible, to consider whether it would make any difference to the outcome of this case if it were admitted.

11

The statement of the appellant's mother confirms that he approached her after the incident in the wood. It confirms that he gave her an account of having been threatened in the way he describes. Her statement goes rather further, because it suggests that the appellant told her that he had been beaten by his uncle. The statement also sets out, albeit clearly all hearsay evidence or opinion evidence, the mother's view that the man concerned is violent and also in a position to subvert the ordinary rule of law in the Czech Republic.

12

The district judge summarised the Article 3 issue in this way:

"27. This article states that no one shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The general principles derived from case law are relevant, namely that the RP has the burden of adducing clear and cogent evidence that there are substantial grounds for believing that he is at risk of being killed, tortured or to inhuman or degrading treatment. Where the alleged risk is from a non state actor it will be necessary to show that protection from the requesting state will be inadequate. It will not be enough to rely simply on the RP's evidence.

28. Mr Adamek asserts that if he is held in a Czech prison, he will be vulnerable to assault or ill treatment from associates of his uncle. He has made...

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