x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Chief Justice orders man extradited to Iran

The Supreme Court has approved the extradition of an Iranian man convicted of bribery in his home country.

ABU DHABI // The Supreme Court has approved the extradition of an Iranian man convicted of bribery in his home country, dismissing as irrelevant his claims that the conviction by Iranian courts was flawed and invalid.

Dr Abdulwahab Abdul, the President and Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court, who presided over the case, wrote that defendants could be extradited if they had been sentenced by a court in their home country to a minimum of six months.

"If the court [ruling on an extradition request] has evidence the defendant was convicted, it does not have the right to question [the verdict's] validity, the court proceedings or the issuance of the conviction," Chief Justice Abdul said in the ruling, which was written last month but released yesterday.

The man, whose name was withheld from the court documents released yesterday, was sentenced by an Iranian court to three years in prison for offering bribes to obtain bank funds. He was convicted of offering a bribe to officials at the central branch of Melli Bank in the Iranian city of Araq, to obtain bank funds "in violation of the laws governing the banking sector".

He fled the country before serving the sentence, according to court records. Iranian judicial authorities asked the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal to order the extradition of the man. The UAE and Iran have an extradition treaty, signed in December last year. It had not come into effect when the man's case began in the UAE legal system.

The extradition request was based on reciprocity and international mutual legal assistance principles, rather than the treaty.

The defendant, however, said the alleged incident never happened and that the request included no evidence against him: the records from the Iranian authorities did not include a confession to offering a bribe, seized money or proof the money was paid as a bribe. He also said the bank did not report any violations of financial law.

But the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal approved his extradition on March 29 last year, and he appealed to the Federal Supreme Court. At the Supreme Court, he said the court had to be sure there was evidence against him before he was extradited. He argued the court was required to do that in accordance with international judicial co-operation treaties.

The Supreme Court rejected his argument, and said the justices were not required to question court proceedings of a country requesting extradition, as long as the proceedings resulted in a conviction.

For defendants to be extradited to their home country, the judicial authorities of their country should present evidence, such as a court conviction or police investigations, that the defendant was involved in a criminal act and punished by a minimum of six months in prison. The offence must be considered a crime in both countries.

According to a 2006 federal law, judicial authorities requesting the extradition of a defendant from the UAE must enclose a signed copy of the investigation files related to the case, or a conviction.

In July, the Supreme Court refused the extradition of a Russian man, charged in his home country with embezzlement and money laundering, because the extradition request did not include the required investigation report.

Under the extradition treaty signed by UAE and Iran, neither country will extradite its own nationals to the other country.

 

hhassan@thenational.ae