Sunday 18 March 2018

Healthcare concerns derail extradition of drug suspect to Greece

Stock photo
Stock photo
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The High Court has refused to extradite an Irish national wanted in Greece on drugs importation charges due to fears over healthcare available in the prison system there.

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly said Greek authorities had failed to provide assurances that adequate medical care would be provided to Richard Joseph Kinsella, who suffers from a syndrome which places him at increased risk of developing melanoma.

A European arrest warrant was issued for him last year by Greece, where he is wanted for seven drug trafficking offences.

These include participation in a criminal organisation and importing, exporting, transporting and possessing large quantities of narcotics.

However, lawyers for Mr Kinsella objected to his extradition, arguing he had serious health problems and that the level of care provided to inmates in Greece was "utterly inadequate".

A 2012 report from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture was put before the court, which highlighted poor provision of care in the Greek prison system.

Subsequent reports by the committee also noted inadequate staffing levels, and the ceding of control of accommodation areas to groups of prisoners in some jails. In one prison, Korydallos in Athens, conditions were described as filthy, with cells being infested with cockroaches and bedbugs.


A report by the same committee last year said the situation had deteriorated to the point where vulnerable prisoners were not being cared for and, in some cases, allowed to die.

Mr Kinsella's legal team also relied on a report by Greek lawyer George Pyromallis, who said there was a real possibility he would be detained at Korydallos, as it is in Athens where his trial is scheduled to held.

Mr Kinsella's co-defendants are being held there.

A report by a consultant dermatologist and surgeon said Kinsella underwent an operation to excise a mole which was found to be a spreading malignant melanoma.

As part of a follow-up procedure he is seen every three months and has been advised to minimise exposure to sunshine.

Although some assurances were given by Greek authorities about the standard of medical care available, Ms Justice Donnelly requested further information. She noted a reply received from Greek authorities last month did not give the assurances the court required.

The judge said she believed there was a "real risk" Mr Kinsella would be subjected to "inhuman and degrading treatment".

Irish Independent

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