December 21 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 2, 2013
Senior judges say a London-based businessman accused of escaping from prison in the United States more than 20 years ago following a fraud conviction should not be extradited.
They concluded extradition to America would breach Ilan Shlesinger’s human rights after examining the case at a High Court hearing this morning.
Sir John Thomas and Mrs Justice Thirlwall blocked an extradition request from the United States Department of Justice and said the case was ‘unusual and exceptional’.
They said he had left a prison camp ‘days’ before his scheduled release, had since led a ‘blameless life’, had children, and would face the ‘severe’ penalty of being held in custody pending a trial in America.
They decided in these ‘rare circumstances’ extradition would be a ‘disproportionate interference’ with his rights to family life, enshrined under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Judges were told that Mr Shlesinger, who had interests in a computer software business and a children’s activity centre, had been given a four-month jail term in 1991 after admitting passport fraud.
A Florida court had heard how he had been born in Israel but had falsely claimed to have been born in America.
The High Court was told he had left a prison camp in 1991 days before his sentence was due to end, ‘walking off’ while working on day release at a nearby air base.
In 2011, American authorities discovered he was living in London after seeing entries on Facebook, and requested his extradition for the ‘offence of escape’.
Sir John, who is President of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court and is due to become Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales in October, said the court had to balance the allegations and the consequences of extradition against human rights.
He concluded: “We have come to the conclusion in the rare circumstances of this most unusual and exceptional case that to order extradition would infringe the Article 8 rights of (Mr Shlesinger) and those dependent on him.”
A district judge ruled in Mr Shlesinger’s favour at an extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in January.
United States authorities appealed against that decision to the High Court, which ruled today after a hearing in April.