Woman faces extradition for cannabis infringement 20 years ago

The Evening Standard tells the story of of Deborah Dark, a British citizen, who is fighting extradition to France under the EU’s European Arrest Warrant for an alleged cannabis offence 20 years ago.

A French court acquitted her but neither she nor her lawyer was informed that the French prosecution later appealed the decision and she had been sentenced to six years in prison, in absentia.

For the next 15 years, Dark travelled undisturbed to France, unaware of her status as a wanted convict “so it might have continued but for creation of the European Arrest Warrant, enacted in 2003, to enable the fast-track extradition of terrorist suspects.

This changed everything.

In 2005 a public prosecutor in Pau applied for and was granted a European Arrest Warrant against her.” The article notes that Dark “remains stuck in a Catch-22 situation” because although both a Spanish court and Westminster Magistrates Court have refused to extradite her, due to “passage of time”, she is unable to clear her name without returning to France, risking a retrial.

Fair Trials International said that changing the legal system and amending European law made by the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union will require key British politicians to take up her case, which the article notes “could be a long, hard road.”

“The Home Office say they can’t help, my MEP, Baroness Sarah Ludford, hasn’t responded to my numerous emails and pleas for help. Everywhere I turn, they pass the buck.”

What needless agony this woman has had to go through. How can it be right that she wasn’t informed of her “wanted criminal” status which has doubtless caused her problems over the years, without her knowing why?

Is this what we call justice?

Fair Trials International provides background on Deborah and her case.

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