What is it with Portugal? It seems to me as if they abuse the European Arrest Warrant, hold their trials in Portuguese, with no proper translators, so Brits can’t understand what is going on and they refuse people basic rights when arrested.
So Garry Mann was not the only person subjected to a raw deal by the Portuguese Judicial system, another victim is now suing the Portuguese authorities for wrongful arrest, according to the Telegraph
British woman sues Portuguese after being wrongly strip-searched and jailed under EU arrest warrant
A British woman was seized, strip-searched and jailed under the controversial European Arrest Warrant for an alleged crime committed by her then boyfriend 12 years before.
9:00PM GMT 05 Nov 2011
Tracey Molamphy, a 40-year-old secretary from Lancashire, was held while changing planes at Munich airport on charges she had no idea even existed.
Told she would be extradited to Portugal, she spent two weeks in a cell and paid more than £20,000 in legal fees before the case was dropped.
Ms Molamphy is now suing the Portugese authorities for wrongful imprisonment and mental anguish. The action, which begins this week in Lisbon, will be an important test of the EAW, under which anyone in Britain can be arrested, jailed and extradited on demand by any EU country without any requirement to produce evidence.
Ms Molamphy told The Sunday Telegraph: “I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. Even the German police officer who took me to prison said it was ridiculous.” After a full body search, Ms Molamphy was forced to change into a prison uniform. She spent the next 14 days in a small cell, shared with a heroin addict, in which she was locked for 22½ hours a day.
“Nobody told me anything,” she said. “I’ve never been in trouble with the police apart from this and I didn’t have any idea what it was about at first.” Her detention, she learned, turned out to relate to an incident involving her then partner, Lee Chapman, while the couple were on holiday in Portugal in 1996.
Unwittingly, she insists, Mr Chapman was in possession of around £120 of forged British currency. “He didn’t realise it was counterfeit,” she said. “When he tried to change it to Portugese money, both of us were arrested.”
The couple were held in custody for 24 hours but were then released, as they believed, without charge. “We weren’t allowed to make any phone calls or speak to a lawyer,” Ms Molamphy said. “We went to a hearing which was all in Portugese with no translation and after that we were told to leave the country on the next plane.”
Ms Molamphy and Mr Chapman travelled freely throughout Europe and the world without incident for the next 12 years until they were changing planes at Munich airport in spring 2008.
“They typed our names into the computer, and asked us to come with them,” she said. “We waited 30 minutes, and they came back and said they were sorry, they were going to have to arrest me.” Entirely unknown to her, she says, the Portugese had charged her with being an accessory to forgery and issued an EAW for her arrest.
Mr Chapman was not the subject of a warrant, apparently because the Portugese authorities did not have an address for him, and so was not arrested. “When we found out what it was about he told the Germans it should be him in custody, not me, but they took no notice,” she said.
During her detention, Ms Molamphy was forced to hire three sets of lawyers — in Germany, England and Portugal — and was within hours of extradition to Portugal, where she faced months in custody awaiting trial and up to five years’ imprisonment if convicted. Her Portugese lawyer secured her release on bail and, eventually, the dropping of the charges.
“It was horrible,” she said. “It’s really affected me. It’s knocked my confidence and I was really down about it for a long time. We spent a lot of our savings on legal fees. We worked hard for that money, and it was really hard to lose it.”
The couple’s long-term relationship broke up about 18 months after the arrest. “It was due to a lot of things, but this definitely didn’t help,” she said.
The Molamphy case is the latest controversy involving the European Arrest Warrant, introduced in 2003 as a “fast-track” extradition system between EU countries. Under the EAW, previous requirements for prima facie evidence were dropped and British courts have been stripped of most power to resist extradition. Thousands of people in Britain have been seized by British police, imprisoned here and eventually extradited, many for crimes that would never be prosecuted in this country and might not even be criminal offences at all in British law.
The Sunday Telegraph has campaigned for reform after highlighting victims of the system, including a British motorist who spent months in custody fighting extradition to Poland on charges of having a forged car insurance certificate and others seized on charges of failing to pay their credit card bills.
Last week, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, lost his appeal against an EAW extradition from Britain to Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him on allegations of sexual assault. Mr Assange told supporters: “I have not been charged with any crime in any country. The European Arrest Warrant is so restrictive that it prevents UK courts from considering the facts of a case.”
Jago Russell, chief executive of the charity Fair Trials International, which helps those faced with unfair foreign criminal proceedings, said: “Tracey is the victim of a fast-track extradition system which is being used for the most petty crimes and years after the alleged offence.
“Sadly her case is just the tip of the iceberg: last year alone over 1,000 people were extradited from the UK under these laws. Until they are reformed, many more people are going to suffer this kind of terrifying ordeal.” Despite a string of controversial cases, however, a recent British government review, conducted by a retired judge, ruled that the EAW was not unfair.