Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Man dies before winning UK's longest extradition battle

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News

Mohammed Lodhi
Mohammed Lodhi fought a decade-long battle

A man who fought Britain's longest-running battle against extradition has been allowed to stay by the High Court - weeks after he died.

Businessman Mohammed Lodhi spent a decade resisting extradition on drug charges to the United Arab Emirates.

He died in January just six weeks after the end of a legal challenge in which he said he faced torture if returned.

On Friday the High Court ruled that Mr Lodhi would have been allowed to stay in the UK, had he lived.

Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that there was a real risk that Mr Lodhi would have been tortured or subjected to inhuman treatment had he been extradited as requested.

Mr Lodhi, who was in his early 50s and rarely took a day off, died of a heart attack while exercising. His family believe that he had been suffering from enormous stress in the run-up to the judgement.

Andrew Smith, Mr Lodhi's solicitor, said the case had a tragic outcome, but there had finally been closure for his client's wife and five children.

"To win an extradition case on human rights grounds is extremely rare, so I am delighted by the court's decision," said Mr Smith, an extradition specialist with law firm Corker Binning.

"Mr Lodhi and his family fought long and hard against extradition for over a decade. It is tragic that he did not live to benefit from this judgement which would have freed him to live a normal life."

Legal battle

Mr Lodhi, a construction tycoon, was one of 24 defendants charged with a serious drug conspiracy in the UAE in 1997. He fled the Middle East and when he later arrived in the UK, he was immediately arrested and told he would be returned.

Mr Lodhi maintained that he had been framed because of business rivalries and that he would face torture in prison there.

His wife told the High Court that he met growing resentment and hostility and had become the victim of rivalries between the UAE's powerful families.

Although the UAE has an extradition agreement with the UK, it remains one of a handful of countries not to have signed the UN Convention against Torture.

In its judgement, the High Court said that it was possible that Mr Lodhi had been a victim of a "sheikhly dispute" - and it was not necessarily the case that his extradition was being sought in bad faith.

But the judges added: "The frequency and extent of the breaches [of a right not to be tortured] which has arisen for others involved in this case… have led us to the conclusion that they cannot sufficiently diminish the real risk... that were Mr Lodhi to be extradited to the UAE his [right not to be tortured] would be breached before trial, or during imprisonment after conviction."

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific