Spanish extradition bids fade

The High Court in Belfast has no power to revoke bail granted to a Basque man whose extradition is being sought by the Spanish authorities, judges ruled yesterday.

MrJose Ignacio ‘Inaki’ de Juana Chaos who is due to appeal against the extradition, had been living with his wife in west Belfast.

But it has emerged that he has not reported to the PSNI police for more than two months and is now thought to have left Ireland.

Spanish authorities had applied for bail to be withdrawn from the 54-year-old who they are seeking on their controversial charge of “glorifying terrorism”.

Although he was not present, the Basque man is wanted over the contents of a letter read out at a rally in San Sebastian the day after his release in August 2008. He denies writing the letter, which contained the Basque phrase, “kick the ball forward” on which the Spanish charge is based.

He faces the possibility of further imprisonment if convicted.

In March, a previous court under the Recorder for Belfast controversially ordered his extradition after dismissing concerns that the Spanish charge was invented and rejecting claims that he would not receive a fair trial.

Lawyers for the Spanish authorities then went before a High Court panel for a ruling on whether it could revoke de Juana’s bail.

Ruling on the case, Justice McCloskey said: “The High Court has no jurisdiction, statutory or inherent, to revoke the appellant’s bail, commit him to custody and estreat his recognizance.”

The judges also called for the apparent legislative gap exposed by proceedings against Mr de Juana to be urgently addressed.

In March, a European Arrest Warrant against another Basque man living in Belfast, Arturo Villanueva, was thrown out of court. The Spanish extradition bid was ruled invalid following a lack of details from the police over the allegations.

The Spanish authorities claimed that Villanueva was a member of an outlawed youth organisation which had campaigned for the right to Basque self-determination.

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