On 11 June 2021, the High Court (Holroyde LJ and Jay J) handed down judgment quashing an order for the extradition to Romania of Mr Gabriel Popoviciu, a high-profile, successful Romanian businessman.
The Court described Mr Popoviciu’s case as “extraordinary”.
The Court found that there was credible evidence to show that the trial judge who convicted Mr Popoviciu in Romania – whilst holding judicial office, and over a number of years – corruptly assisted “underworld” businessmen with their legal matters. In particular, the trial judge had provided “improper and corrupt assistance” to the complainant, and chief prosecution witness in Mr Popoviciu’s case, including the soliciting and receiving of bribes. The trial judge’s failure to disclose his pre-existing corrupt relationship with the complainant – and the Romanian authorities’ failure properly to investigate this link – were of central, damning importance.
The Court therefore concluded that Mr Popoviciu was not tried by an impartial tribunal and that he had “suffered a complete denial” of his fair trial rights as protected by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Court further concluded that the serving of a prison sentence based on an improper conviction would be “arbitrary” and that extraditing Mr Popoviciu would consequently represent a “flagrant denial” of his right to liberty as protected by Article 5 of the European Convention.
The Court accordingly quashed the order for extradition and allowed the appeal.
This is the first time that the High Court has concluded that extradition to an EU Member State represents a real risk of a “flagrant denial” of a requested person’s Convention rights.