Page last updated at 14:47 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Cyprus pair lose extradition bid

Michael Binnington and Luke Atkinson
Michael Binnington and Luke Atkinson are due to be jailed in Cyrpus

Two cousins from Essex who were passengers in a car which hit and killed a teenager in Cyprus have lost a High Court bid to avoid extradition.

Michael Binnington and Luke Atkinson now face being taken to Cyprus within 10 days to serve their sentences.

Two High Court judges ruled they could not challenge Justice Secretary Jack Straw's refusal to delay extradition.

The men were in a car driven by Julian Harrington when it hit a moped, killing pillion passenger Christos Papiris, 17.

'No further action'

Harrington, from Witham, is serving a 15-year jail sentence after admitting manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm following the incident in Protaras in 2006.

Binnington, 23, and Atkinson, 24, also from Witham, were initially acquitted by a Cypriot court in February 2007, but that verdict was overturned by the higher court in January 2008 after they had returned to the UK.

They were then sentenced in their absence by the Supreme Court of Cyprus.

In June, they lost their UK court fight against extradition, and recently the UK Supreme Court turned down their applications for one last appeal.

Lord Justice Moses said no-one aware of the facts "can be other than sympathetic" to them over the way they had left Cyprus believing they had been acquitted.

They had been advised by Cypriot lawyers there was "no or very little chance" that they would be convicted on appeal.

Flawed system

Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Hickinbottom, sitting in London, ruled: "There is no room for further action by the authorities in this country."

The judges described the action as "merely an attempt - understandable though it is" to get round the statutory rules governing extradition.

The human rights charity Fair Trials International (FTI) questioned extraditing the pair when they were likely to be returned to the UK in a few months to complete serving their sentences.

Jago Russell, chief executive of FTI, said the decision was "further evidence of flaws in Europe's fast-track extradition system".

He added: "What sense is there in sending these young men to Cyprus only to have them transferred to the UK a few months later?"

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