Saturday 20 April 2019

Child porn accused fails to block US extradition

Eric Eoin Marques: Has been in custody since August 2013
Eric Eoin Marques: Has been in custody since August 2013

Aodhan O'Faolain

A man accused of being the world's biggest facilitator of child porn has been cleared for extradition to the United States by the Supreme Court.

The decision brings to an end a battle by Eric Eoin Marques, before the Irish courts, aimed at preventing his extradition.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Mr Marques' appeal against a decision of the High Court that he be surrendered to US authorities. That decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Marques, in his 30s, is wanted by US authorities to face charges relating to conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography, and advertising and distributing child pornography.

He is alleged to be the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting.

Mr Marques, of Mountjoy Square, Dublin, has been in custody since his arrest in August 2013 after being refused bail over concerns, including that he represented a flight risk and may interfere with evidence.

Last year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Mr Marques' appeal on the basis that it raised points of law that were of public significance.

The appeal centred around the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision not to prosecute him in Ireland for the same alleged offences that the US authorities want to prosecute him for.

His lawyers asked the Supreme Court whether the Minister for Justice was under an obligation to seek reasons from the DPP as to why Mr Marques was not being prosecuted in Ireland for the alleged offences. The court was also asked if the reasons given by the minister in making the decision to extradite Mr Marques were adequate.

The State, represented by Ronan Kennedy BL, had argued that the appeal be dismissed.

Giving the court's decision, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan "was not under an obligation to seek reasons from the DPP as to why a suspect is not being prosecuted in Ireland".

The minister, who under the 1965 Extradition Act can refuse to order a suspect's extradition, has a separate function from the DPP.

Mr Justice Charleton said the reasons given by the minister in the circumstances of this case not to seek reasons from the DPP were adequate, the judge added.

Mr Justice William McKechnie, Mr Justice John McMenamin, Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley and Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan concurred with Mr Justice Charleton's decision.

The court lifted the stay on the extradition order made by the lower courts, clearing the way for Mr Marques' surrender to the US authorities.

Irish Independent

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