On appeal from: [2012] HCJAC 17.

The appellant, an Albanian national, was convicted for murder in absentia by an Albanian court. He challenged his extradition from Scotland, but the Appeal Court of the High Court of Justiciary refused to admit new evidence relating to the alleged systemic corruption in the Albanian judicial system and dismissed his appeal.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal, referring the matter back to the Appeal Court for consideration of whether the appellant would suffer a flagrant denial of justice if he were extradited to Albania. This threshold test is stringent – the ECtHR has observed it would only be met in very exceptional circumstances, requiring a breach of the relevant right so fundamental it destroys the very essence of that right.

When allegations of corruption are widespread they must be taken seriously. The allegations made against the Albanian judicial system are sufficiently serious for it to be necessary to re-examine the evidence closely, but the Supreme Court is not in a position to determine how systemic the problem is. The Appeal Court should be provided with up-to-date information to reach a properly informed decision on whether the threshold test is satisfied.

It was held that a devolution issue had been raised rather than a compatibility issue: the Lord Advocate does not act in his capacity as head of the prosecution service when he performs functions under the Extradition Act 2003.

For judgment, please download: [2013] UKSC 48
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII