Thursday 18 January 2018

High Court refuses to surrender Irish man to Bulgaria for alleged attempted murder charge

High Court refuses to surrender Irish man to Bulgaria for alleged attempted murder charge
High Court refuses to surrender Irish man to Bulgaria for alleged attempted murder charge

Ruaidhrí Giblin

The High Court has refused to surrender a Tipperary man to Bulgarian authorities for alleged attempted murder because of the "real risk" he would be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment.

Bulgarian authorities had sought the extradition of Aidan O'Dwyer (40), who is originally from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, for prosecution on a single “criminal offence” of attempted murder.

The requesting State had alleged that Mr O'Dwyer made a “deliberate attempt to murder” a named taxi driver by stabbing him “in the chest with a knife” the assault being “motivated by hooliganism”.

The taxi driver's life was allegedly only saved by the emergency services, according to Bulgarian authorities, and the “perpetrator was not successful in his murder attempt for reasons beyond his control”.

Mr O'Dwyer, who could not fully contest the allegations during the High Court civil proceedings, claimed he had been acting in self-defence, the alleged injuries were not that serious and the taxi driver only had to spend one night in hospital.

He had been arrested in this State by gardaí on June 24 2014 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the Bulgarian authorities.

Refusing the Justice Minister's request for surrender today, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, said Mr O'Dwyer's particular medical conditions and the information he had been able to submit to the court through his consultant hepatologist and general practitioner made the case “unique”.

In 2005 he required a liver transplant, his health was complicated and he was currently on powerful medication, she said.

Of considerable importance, she said, was the fact that he had sworn his medical evidence prior to a report by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) concerning conditions in Bulgarian prisons.

The CPT had examined all but one Bulgarian prison and found “fundamental shortcomings” in the treatment of prisoners healthy or otherwise, the court heard.

Ms Justice Donnelly said there were “substantial grounds” for believing a real risk existed that Mr O'Dwyer would be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in the Bulgarian prison system.

It would be “inhumane and degrading” for a person with a very genuine life threatening condition to be kept without medical attention or to be in a situation where there would be clearly inadequate medical attention provided, she said.

Ms Justice Donnelly said she was satisfied that Mr O'Dwyer's surrender to Bulgarian authorities was prohibited under Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Mr O'Dwyer, who was representend by Kieran Kelly BL, was discharged from the proceedings and the court made an order to return any bail monies.

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