Man’s US extradition over terror refused

The High Court has refused to order the extradition of an Algerian-born Irish citizen who is wanted in the US on alleged terrorism-related offences.

High Court judge Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly yesterday refused the State’s application for the extradition of Ali Charaf Damache at the request of the US.

Ms Justice Donnelly said the DPP had abdicated responsibility to consider the proper forum for prosecution however she would not quash the DPP’s decision in that regard unless the State successfully appeals her refusal to extradite him.

The main points of objection to his extradition include grounds related to the conditions of detention in which it is alleged Mr Damache would be held if he was extradited to the US.

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Other grounds cover the sentencing procedure under US federal sentencing guidelines, the plea bargaining system and the nature and length of the sentence he was bound to receive.

In separate proceedings, Mr Damache sought to review the decision of the DPP not to prosecute him in this jurisdiction arising from the factual allegations underpinning the extradition request and the failure of the DPP to give reasons for the decision.

Mr Damache has lived here for a decade and is wanted in the US to face charges relating to conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists and attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

Last December was the second time his extradition case had been heard. In November, Mr Damache won a Supreme Court appeal against a High Court judge’s refusal for leave to seek judicial review of the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute Mr Damache here.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Mr Damache was entitled to apply for judicial review on two issues: whether the DPP’s March 2011 refusal to prosecute him here is reviewable, and whether the DPP was entitled to refuse to give reasons for her refusal.

If Mr Damache had been convicted in the US, he could have faced up to 45 years in jail, a term his lawyers said would be “a lot more” than would be imposed here in Ireland.

In her judgement, Ms Justice Donnelly said there was no meaningful judicial review available in the US of the conditions of detention and the necessity for same.

Mr Damache’s main complaint was in relation to the allegedly inhuman conditions he would be detained in if he was extradited. The judge decided that “the institutionalisation of solitary confinement with its routine isolation from meaningful contact and communication with staff and other inmates, for a prolonged pre-determined period of at least 18 months and continuing almost certainly for many years, amounts to a breach of the constitutional requirement to protect persons from inhuman and degrading treatment and to respect the dignity of the human being.”

The US alleges it has evidence that Mr Damache conspired to create a terror cell in Europe capable of targeting both US and western European citizens.

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