Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Men lose battle against extradition

Two men have lost their bid to avoid extradition to the United States

Two men wanted in America to face murder charges have lost their legal battle with the UK Government against extradition.

European judges ruled that extraditing them to a country which has the death penalty and life imprisonment without parole would not be breach of their human rights.

A 33-year old Scot, Phillip Harkins and 24-year old American Joshua Edwards, were indicted in the US in 2000 and in 2006 respectively.

Mr Harkins was accused of killing a man during an attempted armed robbery.

Mr Edwards was accused of intentionally shooting two people, killing one of them and injuring the other, because his victims "made fun of his small stature and feminine appearance" according to court documents.

Mr Harkins' alleged offence took place in Jacksonville, Florida in 1999, and he has been fighting extradition from Scotland after being released on bail in 2002.

Both men were arrested in the UK after the American government applied for their extradition and gave assurances that the death penalty would not be applied and that the maximum sentence which they risked was life imprisonment.

Both took their cases to the human rights court after British courts rejected their claims that their human rights would be breached by the risk of life in prison without parole if extradited.

They said the UK Government was bound by the Human Rights Convention article safeguarding against "inhuman and degrading treatment".

The judgment said the diplomatic assurance provided by the US authorities to the UK Government - that the death penalty would not be sought in respect of either man were "clear and sufficient to remove any risk that either of the applicants could be sentenced to death if extradited, particularly as the US had a long history of respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law".

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