Cousins to be extradited to Cypriot jail

TWO cousins from Essex facing jail in Cyprus after losing a High Court battle could be serving their sentences back in the UK “within months”, a campaign group claimed last night.

James Hore

TWO cousins from Essex facing jail in Cyprus after losing a High Court battle could be serving their sentences back in the UK “within months”, a campaign group claimed last night.

Michael Binnington and Luke Atkinson face removal in the next 10 days after judges ruled there was “no room” for further action to prevent extradition on manslaughter charges.

The Witham men were passengers in a car being driven by Mr Atkinson's uncle, Julian Harrington, which was involved in a collision in 2006 with a moped which killed pillion passenger Christos Papiris, 17.


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Harrington, also from Witham, is serving a 15-year jail sentence after admitting manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm.

The pair were acquitted of culpable manslaughter by a Cypriot court in February 2007, but that verdict was overturned by the higher court in January 2008 after they had returned to the UK.

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In June they lost their UK court fight against extradition, and recently the UK Supreme Court turned down their applications for one last appeal.

Yesterday two High Court judges ruled the pair cannot challenge Justice Secretary Jack Straw's refusal to delay extradition so an agreement could be sought with the Cyprus authorities allowing them to serve their three-year sentences in the UK.

But Fair Trials International (FTI) questioned the sense in extraditing the pair when they were likely to be returned to the UK in a few months in any event to complete serving their sentences.

Jago Russell, chief executive of FTI, said: “The decision is further evidence of flaws in Europe's fast-track extradition system.

“What sense is there in sending these young men to Cyprus only to have them transferred to the UK a few months later?”

Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Hickinbottom, sitting in London, ruled yesterday : “There is no room for further action by the authorities in this country (to prevent extradition).

The judges described the last-ditch attempt to avoid removal as "merely an attempt - understandable though it is” to get round the statutory rules governing extradition.

Ben Watson, appearing for the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), told the court that steps would now be taken to execute the extradition order immediately.

Lord Justice Moses said no-one aware of the facts could be “other than sympathetic” to the pair over the way they had left Cyprus believing they had been acquitted.

They had been advised by Cypriot lawyers there was "no or very little chance” that they would be convicted on appeal - then discovered in their absence that they had been convicted and sentenced to three years' prison.

But there was no arguable case on which they could now challenge being returned to Cyprus to serve those sentences, he said.

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