The five-judge Supreme Court yesterday unanimously ruled that Ali Charaf Damache is entitled to judicial review of two issues: Whether the DPP’s March 2011 refusal to prosecute him here is reviewable in the circumstances of his case, and whether the DPP was entitled, in the circumstances of his case, to refuse to give reasons for her refusal.
Chief Justice Ms Justice Susan Denham stressed that the court wanted all matters concerning Mr Damache, including the judicial review, extradition, and constitutional issues, to proceed to hearing in the High Court as soon as possible.
When she asked both sides to facilitate that, barrister Michael P O’Higgins agreed, as did Remy Farrell, counsel for the State.
The court also asked for, and obtained the consent of the State that issues related to arguments raised by Mr Damache under the Constitution and European Convention on Human Rights should be addressed in tandem with the judicial review.
The effect of the court’s rulings is that, should Mr Damache lose his judicial review, the application for his extradition will be heard immediately afterwards.
Mr Damache, aged 50, an Algerian-born Irish citizen previously with an address in Waterford, is wanted by the US authorities in connection with an alleged conspiracy to provide support to terrorists. If convicted in the US, he could face up to 45 years in jail, a term his lawyers previously said would be “a lot more” than could be imposed here.
After the DPP decided in March 2011 not to prosecute him here, the US in 2012 sought his extradition.
At the outset yesterday, having read the submissions and having clarified from both sides that they agreed with the court’s view of the net issues in the appeal, the Supreme Court adjourned for a short time. When it returned, the chief justice said the court would grant leave for judicial review on the two issues identified by the court and would also grant Mr Damache’s appeal against a refusal of legal aid.
Mr Damache is wanted on charges alleging conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism. The US alleges that Mr Damache conspired with American woman Colleen LaRose, who used the online name ‘Jihad Jane’, and others to create a terror cell in Europe. LaRose was sentenced in the US last January to 10 years in prison after being convicted of planning to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.