Attorney General -v- Pratkunas, [2009] IESC 34 (2009)

Docket Number:338/07
Party Name:Attorney General, Pratkunas
Judge:Denham J.
 
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THE SUPREME COURT

[S.C. No: 338 of 2007]

Denham J.

Geoghegan J.

Fennelly J.

Between/

The Attorney General

Applicant/Respondent

and

Ludmilla Borisovna Pratkunas

Respondent/Appellant

Judgment delivered the 2nd day of April, 2009 by Denham J.

  1. This is an appeal by Ludmilla Borisovna Pratkunas, the respondent/appellant, "the appellant", from the judgment of the High Court (Peart J.) delivered on the 28th November, 2007, and from the order committing the appellant to prison pending her surrender to the Russian Federation, in accordance with Part II of the Extradition Act, 1965. On the appellant lodging a notice of appeal the High Court granted bail pending the hearing of this appeal.

  2. The appellant is a national of Estonia who is sought by the Russian Federation under the Extradition Act, 1965. The request is dated the 31st March, 2006. A warrant of arrest was issued by the High Court on the 25th April, 2006, and the appellant was arrested on the 26th June, 2006.

  3. The appellant returned to Estonia from Russia on the 20th November, 2000. In June, 2001 she moved to Ireland with her husband.

  4. The appellant is sought for the purpose of being charged with an alleged offence of fraud.

  5. The allegation is that the appellant and an accomplice, a Mr. Vaganov, had, through a company Mirage Limited, signed a contract on the 24th March, 2000, agreeing to repay a debt owed

    by the Reft Hydroelectric Station to the State's "Sverdlovgosenergonadzor" in the amount of 200,000 roubles. It appears that in return for discharging the debts of the Hydroelectric Station the

    agreement was that certain products to the value of 200,000 roubles would be transferred to the company. It is alleged that pursuant to this agreement Mirage Limited received a certificate in June,

    2000 to the effect that the money had been transferred and that the appellant and Mr. Vaganov used this certificate to receive concrete slabs to the value of 381,866 roubles between the 30th

    August, 2000 and the 31st December, 2000. The Russian Federation alleges that the company did not discharge the debt as agreed and that the appellant and Mr. Vaganov misappropriated the

    concrete blocks they had received.

  6. An investigation was commenced in April, 2002 and charges were preferred in June, 2002. Mr. Vaganov was found guilty in October, 2002 and was given a five year suspended sentence

    on condition that he repay the money.

  7. The appellant has deposed that in about October, 2000 she was detained by the Russian authorities. It transpired that this was not related to the charge now in issue, but that she was

    detained for failing to register as a foreign national within three days of her arrival in the country. She averred that while in police custody she was subjected to degrading treatment and to physical

    and verbal abuse. She stated that her apartment was ransacked and documents relevant to the matter the subject of the warrant in this case were taken. She stated that she tried to complain about

    this to the police but was told that if she did not return to Estonia within six hours her family would never see her again.

  8. The High Court

    The learned High Court judge pointed out that there was no objection by the appellant to the documents or other matters referred to in s.29 of the Extradition Act, 1965 and he was satisfied the section had been complied with. The High Court was also satisfied that the offence was a corresponding offence. Subject to issues raised by the appellant, the learned High Court judge was satisfied that all of the requirements of the Extradition Act, 1965 have been complied with and that the extradition of the appellant should be ordered.

  9. The issues raised by appellant in the High Court included:-

    (i) documentation;

    (ii) inhuman and degrading treatment;

    (iii) protection of constitutional rights; and

    (iv) the right to a fair trial.

    Also, addressed by the learned trial judge, there was a comparison drawn between extraditions pursuant to Part II of the Extradition Act, 1965 and the European Arrest Warrant Act system.

  10. Documentation

    The appellant submitted that the terms of s.37 of the Extradition Act, 1965 do not apply to documents furnished to the Court in response to issues raised by the appellant. The appellants had raised issues as to her treatment when she was arrested in 2000 in Russia. The requesting state rejected her allegations and provided copies of reports prepared at the time of her arrest and detention, and a statement that no complaint was made at that time. Counsel for the appellant submitted that the High Court ought not to have had regard to the documents as they had not been exhibited by the relevant person in the requesting state in an affidavit. It was submitted that s.37 of the Extradition Act, 1965 did not apply to these documents, that s.37 applies only to documents referred to in s.25 of the Extradition Act...

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