Pair will fight Cyprus extradition

TWO Essex men should be extradited to Cyprus to serve a jail term over the killing of a youth on the island, a court has ruled.

Elliot Furniss

TWO Essex men should be extradited to Cyprus to serve a jail term over the killing of a youth on the island, a court has ruled.

Michael Binnington, 23, and Luke Atkinson, 24, both from Witham, were passengers in a car driven by Atkinson's uncle, Julian Harrington, in Protaras in 2006 when it hit a moped.

The bike's pillion passenger Christof Papiris, 17, was knocked off and killed, while the rider was also seriously injured.

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

Atkinson and Binnington were sentenced in their absence last April to serve a three year jail term by the Supreme Court of Cyprus.

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The pair's legal team had argued that the trial had been unfair but district judge Quentin Purdy disagreed and yesterday ruled that the duo should be extradited to serve their jail term on the island.

The pair now have seven days to launch an appeal.

Speaking outside court their solicitor, Karen Todner, said: “We are disappointed with today's ruling but we will be launching an appeal and we are hopeful for those proceedings.

“Luke and Michael had been very anxious about the hearing, it's been hanging over their heads for a long time.

“They don't want to go to Cyprus and they shouldn't have to.”

Mr Binnington, an office administrator, and Mr Atkinson, who works in a restaurant, showed no emotion as the extradition ruling was made.

Action group Fair Trials International has been campaigning on behalf of the two men, and claims they were “unfairly convicted”, based on “circumstantial evidence”.

Last night Jago Russell, chief executive of the organisation, said: “Luke, Michael and their families have been through a harrowing ordeal since their disastrous holiday in 2006.

“Sadly, their ordeal looks set to continue after today's disappointing decision. Given the serious flaws in their trial, these two young men should not be sent to serve a three year prison sentence in a Cypriot jail.”