Sunday 22 October 2017

Solicitor Michael Lynn to be extradited to Ireland - Brazil Supreme Court rules

JAIL: Lynn is due home soon. Photo: Courtpix
JAIL: Lynn is due home soon. Photo: Courtpix

Matt Sandy

THE saga of fugitive Michael Lynn in Brazil appears to be nearing an end as the country's Supreme Court confirmed his extradition could proceed as planned.

The court first ruled the former solicitor should be extradited in December 2014. But a series of delaying tactics by Lynn’s lawyers drew out the legal process, even as their client remained in a dirty and overcrowded jail he said was making him ill.

The decision comes nine years after he first fled from justice and three years since he was arrested in his beach hideout near the city of Recife.

Last night, the judges rejected for a second time an attempt by Lynn’s lawyers to “request clarification” of the original ruling. The petition had no chance of changing the substance of the judgment, but has delayed his extradition by months.

This time, Lynn’s lawyers argued that the fact a lawyer had left his legal team during proceedings meant his defence was harmed. But all five Supreme Court justices rejected that, saying he had other lawyers also working on the case.

“The fact the lawyer left the team did not harm his representation,” justice Marco Aurélio said. “Since there were other established lawyers.”

In a previous request for clarification in February, Lynn’s lawyers focused on a supposed translation error of the Irish government’s arrest warrant for Lynn.

Now, if there are no more delays, Brazil’s Justice Ministry will inform the Irish authorities that Lynn will be extradited and the logistics will be negotiated via the county’s Federal Police. But there is still not date set for his extradition. Officially, the ministry can overrule the court but it is believed they intend to abide by it.

The delay in today’s final judgment was because of a huge backlog of cases at Brazil’s highest court, which deals with 50,000 cases a year. The original judgment was made on 16 December, 2014, but was not published until 26 February, 2015. It was first appealed on March 4, with the outcome delayed for nearly a year. This second request for clarification also took nearly six months to reach court.

But there was little doubt about the eventual decision.  Legal experts say the court has never overturned its own ruling on an extradition.

Lynn faces 33 charges at Dublin’s High Court relating to an alleged €80 million mortgage fraud, although some will be dropped as part of the extradition deal.

The more serious charges, of theft, were crucial to his extradition and will remain.

Lynn first failed to attend a hearing at the High Court in Dublin in 2007.

At the time he fled, he had debts of €80 million and his company was said to have 148 properties, 154 bank accounts and assets worth more than €50 million.

He arrived in Brazil in 2012 and lived openly in a villa near a beach while teaching English to the locals, joined a country club and dabbled in the property market.

But his comfortable new life came to an end in August 2013 when Brazilian federal police, acting on behalf of Interpol, swooped at a shopping centre near his home.

The disgraced businessman has now spent three years fighting extradition in the Cotel prison with alleged murderers and rapists. The prison, in the grim industrial outskirts of Recife, has a capacity of 700 but has up to 2,400 inmates held there.

His request for bail was denied and he was told to “shut up” by another judge for talking back during an extradition hearing in Recife in October 2013.

Judge Aurélio also turned down a long-running campaign by the fugitive to be transferred to a private hospital after he said he may have tuberculosis.

While there is no extradition treaty between the two countries, a bilateral agreement was struck meaning Lynn can be extradited, even though he and his wife Bríd Murphy have permanent residency after she had a child born in Brazil.

She has stayed in Recife and later gave birth to their second child. The young family lived in a villa with swimming pool, barbecue area and security system.

Before his arrest, Lynn spent 13 hours a week teaching English at the Britanic Piedade school, where his native English skills and “humble charm” were valued.

He would also visit the nearby office of Quantum Consulting and Ventures, a €500,000 company he had registered in yet another shot at property riches.

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