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Judges refuse to extradite 'paedophile' unless his human rights are guaranteed

Published 07/10/2015

Two UK judges say they will not permit the extradition of an alleged paedophile unless they receive assurances about his human rights
Two UK judges say they will not permit the extradition of an alleged paedophile unless they receive assurances about his human rights

UK judges are refusing to extradite an alleged American paedophile who has been on the run from the FBI since 2007 until they have received an assurance that his human rights will not be breached.

The two judges sitting at the High Court in London made it clear that if no assurance is given they will refuse to hand over Roger Giese, 40, to stand trial in California, where is charged with sexually abusing a boy under the age of 14 from 1998 until 2002.

The former choir master has been living in a village in Hampshire under a different name and working for a PR company.

An extradition request from the United States was certified by the Home Office in May 2014, and Giese was arrested on June 4 last year.

But Magistrates' Court District Judge Margot Coleman refused the request last April.

She ruled there was "a real risk" that Giese would be subjected to an order for civil commitment - a form of indeterminate confinement in a secure facility - if convicted of a series of sexual offences against the boy.

Judge Coleman said such an order would be a "flagrant denial" of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The US government appealed against Judge Coleman's decision, but today it was upheld by the High Court, which gave the US authorities a deadline to assure the court that, if Giese was found guilty, "there will be no attempt to make him the subject of a civil commitment order".

Lord Justice Aikens and Mr Justice Holroyde stated in a joint written judgment that Judge Coleman was right to conclude that extradition would be "inconsistent" with Giese's ECHR rights.

The judges said that if no assurance was given "in due time", the US government appeal for the right to extradite "must be dismissed".

Giese is wanted in Orange County, California, for allegedly committing "lewd acts" with a child.

He is alleged to have befriended the boy in 1998, when he was working as a voice coach for the All-American Boys Chorus.

He fled the US eight years ago just as he was about to stand trial.

According to a Mirror newspaper investigation, he set up home with a new partner in the Hampshire countryside. There was no suggestion she knew about his past.

Together, the pair built a PR company with clients including travel giants Thomas Cook.

The Mirror reported that ,through his company, Giese was invited to join Thomas Cook's digital advisory board and spent more than a year as the firm's "global head of social media".

California is one of 20 states in the USA which have a system of civil commitment, the High Court heard.

A commitment order can be imposed against "a person of unsound mind" deemed to be dangerous who has been convicted in the criminal courts and served a sentence for certain types of sexual offence.

The High Court judges said the fact that the US government was not prepared to state that no petition for civil commitment would be filed in the case of Giese did give rise to an inference that there was a real risk of that happening.

The judges said they had to determine whether the Californian legal criteria for deciding who were "persons of unsound mind" to be detained was compatible with Article 5 (1) of the ECHR as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights.

District Judge Coleman had concluded that it was not compatible because "those with a mental diagnosis which falls far short of 'unsound mind' are likely to be committed" under Californian legislation and practice.

Upholding Judge Coleman's decision, the High Court judges said: "There is a real risk that Mr Giese would be denied the very essence of his right to liberty and protection from arbitrary detention that is guaranteed by Article 5."

But the judges added that Giese's extradition was not being sought to make him subject of a civil commitment order but so that he could stand trial "in respect of 19 serious charges of sexual offences" against a young boy.

They ruled the US government should be given a further opportunity to offer "a satisfactory assurance" that if found guilty "there will be no attempt to make him the subject of a civil commitment order".

The US authorities were given 14 days "to state in open court whether such an assurance will be given".

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