Sunday 25 February 2018

Eight years after he fled Ireland, fugitive Michael Lynn is being brought home

Michael Lynn at the school where he taught English in Brazil
Michael Lynn at the school where he taught English in Brazil
The prison in Recife where Lynn has been held for the past 30 months as he fought against his extradition

Matt Sandy in Brasilia

Fugitive former solicitor Michael Lynn should be back in Ireland imminently after Brazil's supreme court finally cleared the way for his extradition.

The court first ruled the 47-year-old should be extradited in December 2014. But a series of delays drew out the legal process, even as Lynn remained in a dirty and overcrowded jail he said was making him ill.

The decision comes more than eight years after he first fled from justice and almost 30 months since he was arrested in his beach hideout near the city of Recife.

Last night, presiding judge Marco Aurélio dismissed the Irishman's final request to seek "clarification" of the original decision - a request on a technicality that was almost certain to fail. The other judges on the panel all endorsed his decision.

The judge will now publish a written version of his decision and the case will then be handed over to Brazil's Justice Ministry.

Officially, the ministry can overrule the court, but a spokesman said it intended to abide by the decision.

Brazil's Federal Police will then negotiate the logistics of his 4,500-mile transfer from Recife to Dublin, which could happen within weeks.

In legal documents presented to the court, Lynn's lawyers argued that irregularities in the extradition process rendered it invalid. They said that because of a translation error the Brazilian authorities incorrectly believed there was a "mandate for prison" for Lynn in Ireland.

The delay in the final judgment was because of a backlog of cases at Brazil's highest court, which deals with 50,000 cases a year.

The original judgment was made on December 16, 2014, but was not published until February 26, 2015. It was appealed on March 4, with the outcome delayed for nearly a year. 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 in Ireland relating to an alleged €80m 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 had debts of €80m and his company was said to have 148 properties, 154 bank accounts and assets worth more than €50m.

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. He and his wife Bríd Murphy have permanent residency after she had a child born in Brazil.

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

The disgraced businessman has spent 30 months fighting extradition in the Cotel prison with alleged murderers. The prison, in the grim industrial outskirts of Recife, has a capacity of 700 but has up to 2,400 inmates held there.

Irish Independent

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