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Another one bites the dust 7

This week we continue looking at the extradition of Andrew Symeou. Last week we saw the three principal grounds relied upon in his appeal to the administrative court. This week we start looking at how the court dealt with them.

The first relates to the circumstances and consequences of the interviews of two of Mr Symeouís friends (Mr Klitou and Mr Kyriacou) by Greek Police on 24th July 2007. Their position is that they were kept at the police station a period exceeding eight hours. They say that they were not given food and water and were beaten and subject to threats by police officers. They say that this is why they gave statements implicating Mr Symeou, effectively to make all this stop and to allow themselves to be released. Their position is that they immediately retracted their statements implicating Mr Symeou once they had left the police station. This version of events has some supporting medical evidence, as well as evidence from the holiday representative and relevant e-mails from British consular officials.

Mr Justice Ouseley stated that the investigation had proceeded on the basis that, the police having shown pictures of people in night clubs to friends of the victim, that those persons had picked out Mr Symeou as the person responsible. The police, who had a photograph but did not know who Mr Symeou was at that stage, then sought to establish his identity. In the end hotel staff identified Mr Klitou and Mr Kyriacou, who had been on holiday with Mr Symeou, as friends of the person in the photograph. That is the context in which those two men, then aged 18 and 19, were interviewed. The interviews took place separately. Statements were given which implicated Mr Symeou as the person responsible, saying that all three men had been in the nightclub together, including Mr Kyriacou saying that the day following the incident Mr Symeou told him he had struck the victim in the face, and when he saw him lying on the floor had panicked and run.

Mr Justice Ouseley summarised the defence evidence as follows at paragraphs 13-15 of his judgement. "Mr Klitou and Mr Kyriacou signed statements in July 2008, describing what had happened at the Zakynthos police station. ...Both were punched in the face on numerous occasions.....Each received other blows and there were other acts of intimidation. They were both kept there for eight hours and just said what they were told to say. Mr Kyriacou could hear his friend being beaten and being asked the same questions repeatedly. Mr Klitou went three hours without water, and six hours without food and then received only a little. He went to see his GP in England three days later, complaining of the pain in his jaw; there was tenderness but no swelling or bruises. ...The District Judge heard oral evidence from Mr Klitou and Mr Kyriacou, as well as from the Club 18-30 representative. She said that when she went to the police station to identify the boys, she was given the same interpreter as they had, whose English was not very good and so she signed nothing until the company translator arrived. She went to see the boys after they had got back to the hotel; one had a swollen face, and she got the impression that they had been made to say things that were not true. The hotelier who was very friendly with the Chief of Police would not allow the Consular official into the hotel to see the boys. ...The District Judge also had an email from the British Vice Consul dated 25 July 2007 which refers to the two boys alleging via their Club 18-30 Tour representative that they had been beaten up by the police, and advised that Consular staff would ask them if they wanted to complain and if so, advise them how to do so. The Consular staff reported that the boys looked well, had no bruises but were obviously very scared. ....On 30 July 2007, the British Ambassador, .. spoke to the Chief of Police ... Later that day this Officer advised the Ambassador that he had made enquiries and found that the allegations against his officers were quite untrue."

These witnesses gave evidence before the District Judge who found the two young men to be " far from entirely satisfactory witnesses. Given the ordeal they recount, violence at the hands of police in a foreign land, their oral testimony in each individual's case was surprisingly uninspiring. They seemed to have great difficulty in recounting the apparent horror of their experience in the kind of detail one might expect. That said, I find for the limited purpose of these proceedings, each was certainly intimated if not subjected to some force by Greek police. Georgina Clay, .. (the) Club 18-30 representative, was an altogether more impressive witness plainly prepared to hold her own with Greek police as with lawyers in this Court. There is contradictory material as to injuries sustained or not. ...The tone of consulate e-mails strongly suggests anxious Greek police following an unlawful death in a popular resort with wide ramifications going beyond those immediately involved and putting pressure for a prompt and effective investigation. Such circumstances are not unknown in this jurisdiction as well as elsewhere."

These findings were challenged by Leading Counsel for the appellant. We will look next week at the challenges on this issue and how the court dismissed them.

Michael J. Booth QC