‘People smuggler’ fights extradition to stand trial in Greece

The alleged head of a people smuggling gang accused of trafficking 100 Syrian refugees a day into Europe will argue that he cannot be extradited because being held in a Greek prison would breach his human rights, a court heard.

Palestinian Jamal Owda, 26, was one of 23 people held in raids across Europe in December over an operation authorities claim could have made up to €10m since 2013 by preying on desperate civilians fleeing the civil war.

He was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by National Crime Agency officers at an asylum shelter in Liverpool and Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London, heard yesterday he is applying for asylum in the UK.

Greece is seeking his extradition to stand trial over the alleged smuggling operation. 

But his lawyer said prison conditions in the country may breach Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers the right to life.

Amelia Nice said the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture had investigated Greek prisons. 

She said: “[The committee’s] report says things are not getting better, they are getting significantly worse, so it becomes an Article 2 case.”

She said Owda’s legal team was trying to arrange for an expert to independently inspect a Greek jail before a full hearing.

Owda was remanded in custody ahead of a May 10 hearing.


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