Minister for Justice and Equality v Vingris

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMs. Justice Donnelly
Judgment Date17 Jul 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] IEHC 517
Docket NumberRecord No. 2016/137 EXT

[2017] IEHC 517

THE HIGH COURT

Donnelly J.

Record No. 2016/137 EXT

BETWEEN
THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY
APPLICANT
AND
JURIS VINGRIS
RESPONDENT

Extradition – The European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 – S.3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) – Real risk of life – Threat by co-accused – Trial in absentia

Facts: The applicant sought the surrender of the respondent for the purpose of execution of sentence of six years and six months imposed upon him in relation to two offences. The respondent objected to his surrender on the ground that it would violate art. 8 of the ECHR and s. 45 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 as it was a trial in absentia. The respondent argued that he had been expressly threatened that he would be killed in prison, and thus, there was real risk to his life.

Ms. Justice Donnelly granted an order for the surrender of the respondent. The Court held that the respondent was present at his initial trial and gave a clear mandate to his lawyer to defend him at the appellate court hearing. The Court noted that since the respondent had made an averment of an alleged threat at a very late stage and underwent imprisonment previously without such a threat, there was no need to obtain any assurance from the requesting state in relation to the safety of the respondent. The Court, however, observed that it was indicated by the requesting state that the respondent's medical, security and other needs would be taken care of.

JUDGMENT of Ms. Justice Donnelly delivered on the 17th day of July, 2017.
1

The surrender of the respondent pursuant to a European Arrest Warrant (‘EAW’) is sought by Latvia for the purpose of executing a sentence of six years and six months imposed upon him in respect of two offences. Three main points of objection were argued on behalf of the respondent. These are: a) a claim under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘ECHR’) concerning his safety in prison in Latvia b) a claim that to surrender him would violate his right to respect for his personal and family rights under Article 8 of the ECHR and c) due to his trial in absentia, it would be a violation of s. 45 of the European Arrest Warrant Act, 2003, as amended (‘the Act of 2003’) to surrender him.

A Member State That Has Given Effect to the 2002 Framework Decision
2

The surrender provisions of the Act of 2003 apply to those Member States of the European Union (‘E.U.’) that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has designated as having, under their national law, given affect to the Council (EC) Framework Decision of 13th June, 2002 (2002/584/JHA) on the European Arrest Warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States (‘2002 Framework Decision’). I am satisfied by the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 (Designated Member States) (No. 5) Order 2004 ( S.I. No. 449/2004), the Minister for Foreign Affairs has designated Latvia as a member state for the purpose of the Act of 2003.

Identity
3

I am satisfied on the basis of the affidavit of Seán Fallon, member of An Garda Síochána, the affidavit of the respondent and the details set out in the EAW that the respondent, Juris Vingris, who appears before me, is the person in respect of whom the EAW has issued.

Endorsement
4

I am satisfied that the EAW has been endorsed in accordance with s. 13 of the Act of 2003 for execution in this jurisdiction.

Sections 21A, 22, 23 and 24 of the Act of 2003
5

Having scrutinised the documentation before me, I am satisfied that I am not required to refuse the surrender of the respondent under the above provisions of the Act of 2003.

Part 3 of the Act of 2003
6

Subject to further consideration of s. 37, s. 38 and s. 45 of the Act of 2003, and having scrutinised the documentation before me, I am satisfied that I am not required to refuse the surrender of the respondent under any other section contained in Part 3 of the said Act.

Section 38 of the Act of 2003
7

The issuing judicial authority in the EAW set out considerable detail of the offences of which this respondent has been convicted. In the first offence, the respondent, together with others, is said to have intentionally inflicted intentional serious bodily injury which, as result of the negligence of the offender, caused the victim's death. The second offence is that, as a state official, the respondent committed intentional acts that manifestly exceeded the limit of rights in authority granted to him by law as a state official and that those acts caused substantial harm to state authority administrative procedure as well as to the rights and interest of a person and that the acts caused serious consequences and were associated with violence.

8

The EAW describes that on 26th July, 2002, the respondent together with other state officials, namely police inspectors, went to a house belonging to another person without any legal authority and assaulted the victim and led him out of the house. This was apparently inspired by a belief that the victim was responsible for the rape of the respondent's relative. They also assaulted the owner of the house and took him out and also placed him in a car and drove the two of them away from the house. They went to the police station with the victim and took him forcibly from the car but were told to take him from the police station and then brought him back to the car. The second man was also brought in and out of the police station but was not detained in accordance with law. The victim was violently assaulted and had at least 33 traumatic impacts on his body. The victim was later returned to the police station but left on a toilet floor without being given medical assistance. Full details of the injuries inflicted on both men are given in the European arrest warrant. The victim died as a result of his injuries.

9

The issuing judicial authority ticked the box of ‘murder, grievous bodily injury’ in respect of the offence of inflicting serious bodily injury. This offence carries in excess of a mandatory minimum of three years imprisonment and therefore meets the threshold set out in Article 2 para. 2 of the 2002 Framework Decision. In all the circumstances, there is no manifestly incorrect designation of the first offence as a list offence.

10

The details of the second offence demonstrate correspondence with a large number of offences in this jurisdiction. The facts correspond to an offence of false imprisonment in that the victim was forcibly taken from the house and held without his consent over a lengthy period of time. There is also correspondence with various assault offences under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997 as well as the offence of burglary contrary to s. 12 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001.

11

In circumstances where the minimum sentence imposed upon the respondent is in excess of that required pursuant to the 2002 Framework Decision and s. 38 of the Act of 2003, I am satisfied that his surrender in relation to these offences is not prohibited pursuant to s. 38 of the Act of 2003.

Section 37 of the Act of 2003
Article 8
12

The respondent claims that to surrender him to Latvia in respect of this sentence would be a disproportionate interference with his right to respect for his personal and family life. He quite correctly acknowledges that his surrender is sought for a serious offence but he submits that the delay, when taken with his own family and personal circumstances, means it would be disproportionate to surrender him.

13

The respondent states that he is 39 years old, married and has been residing in this jurisdiction since the summer of 2004. His son was born in Ireland in June 2005 and another child is expected this coming August. He says that, as a result of his difficulties in gaining alternative employment following his discharge from the police force in Latvia, he made a decision to immigrate with his wife to Dublin, Ireland, where his now father-in-law had settled, in order to seek employment prospects. He says that he has been gainfully employed in the catering industry in a variety of positions which he has outlined in his affidavit. He has a consistent history of working as a chef and has worked his way up to the position of executive chef for six venues. 14. The respondent says that he has been fully integrated into the Irish community. His wife works full-time but he says that his family rely upon him financially and emotionally. It appears that his son who has lived in Ireland since birth regards Ireland as his home and is an avid GAA enthusiast.

15

The evidence demonstrates that this respondent was acquitted by a Latvian court in 2004 in respect of these offences. An appeal was taken by the prosecution and it appears that there was a series of adjournments, not least contributed to by the fact that the respondent had left Latvia and it was not until December 2013 that the appellate court in Latvia convicted and sentenced him for these offences. An appeal was taken to the Latvian Supreme Court in respect of the sentence (the respondent does not accept he was the person who instigated that appeal). The decision of the Latvian Supreme Court was given on 23rd September, 2014 whereby the sentence was reduced to one of six years and six months imprisonment. The EAW was issued on 24th March, 2016 and was endorsed on 19th July, 2016 and he was arrested on 29th July, 2016.

16

Counsel for the respondent has relied in the main on the establishment of the respondent in this jurisdiction and the delay since the commission of the offence. This Court must have regard to the principles set out in Minister for Justice and Equality v. T.E. [2013] IEHC 323 and to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Minister for Justice and Equality v. P.K. [2016] IECA 303 and to the Supreme Court in Minister for Justice and Equality v. J.A.T. (No. 2) ...

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