Belfast Telegraph

Alleged rapist who said he'd 'rather take his own life than go back to Germany' loses legal bid to stay in Northern Ireland

By Alan Erwin

An alleged rapist who claimed he would rather commit suicide than be returned to Germany has lost his legal bid to remain in Northern Ireland.

High Court judges today rejected Hamitt El Massoud's appeal against an order for his extradition to face criminal proceedings.

Despite an apparent attempt to take his own life after the earlier ruling, Lord Justice Girvan said the German prison system is bound to take steps to ensure his future protection.

El Massoud, a 34-year-old Algerian national, was detained after arriving in Belfast in November 2011.

He had travelled through France and Germany before entering the UK illegally.

German authorities had issued a European Arrest Warrant against him over an allegation of rape earlier that year.

Described as intellectually disadvantaged and semi-literate, El Massoud claimed his parents and 11-year-old sister were murdered by terrorists in Algeria.

He said he suffered mental illness following their killings and travelled about Europe as a casual labourer.

According to his account he had consensual sex with a Moroccan woman he was drinking with in Germany.

He claimed she made the rape allegations because he did not want to marry her.

El Massoud lodged an appeal after a lower court ordered his extradition in June this year.

His lawyers argued that his return was unjust or oppressive given his mental illness and risk of suicide.

They also sought to introduce fresh medical evidence following an alleged attempt by El Massoud to take his own life after the earlier extradition decision.

A consultant psychiatrist who interviewed the Algerian at Maghaberry Prison reported that he started having thoughts of self-harm when he heard he was to be deported to Germany.

El Massoud claimed he heard voices telling him to kill himself, and that he had cut a sheet to hang himself only for others to intervene.

Other voices were telling him to pour petrol over himself and set himself alight.

"He persistently asserted that he would rather take his own life than return to Germany," the consultant psychiatrist said.

El Massoud was diagnosed as suffering from a psychotic syndrome attributed to either post-traumatic stress disorder or schizophrenia.

His antipathy to Germany flowed from a paranoid way of thinking, according to the medical expert.

Despite finding significant embellishment in the symptoms, El Massoud was held to be a vulnerable individual liable to react "catastrophically and dangerously, with a substantial risk of serious self-harm and suicide".

However, Lord Justice Girvan, sitting with Lord Justice Coghlin and Mr Justice Horner, pointed out that the psychiatrist's fears were qualified by an acceptance that the risk could be managed if properly treated, managed and supervised.

Dismissing El Massoud's appeal, the judge said: "Germany is a member of the Council of Europe and it is bound by the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"It has in place a prison system which is bound to take reasonable steps to ensure that the prisoner's convention rights are protected."

Due to a requirement to translate medical reports and records, the wanted man is to remain in custody in Northern Ireland until his extradition date in February.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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