Peters & Peters

Successful discharge of extradition to Russia Federation sets new assurance hurdles for requesting states

The successful discharge for our client, Mr Zmikhnovskiy, after a robustly contested hearing is the first decision on extradition to Russian Federation made in the Magistrates’ Court, following the Shmatko High Court judgment. A postscript to Mr Zmikhnovskiy’s judgment lists important assurance requirements for the Russian Federation to meet for any future extradition requests.

Senior District Judge Arbuthnot held that if Mr Zmikhnovskiy was extradited to the Russian Federation he would be held in prison conditions which would seriously violate his Article 3 rights (prohibition of torture) and that the absence of effective independent monitoring of prison conditions increased that risk. The judge also held that there would be a breach of Mr Zmikhnovskiy’s Article 6 rights (right to a fair trial). The allegations against Mr Zmikhnovskiy, of defrauding the Ministry of Defence of a fairly substantial sum and his past connection to Mr Serdyukov, the then Minister of Defence, combined with the evidence of the lack of judicial independence in cases of interest to the state, led the Judge to conclude that there was a real risk that Mr Zmikhnovskiy would suffer a flagrant denial of justice.

As a post script to this judgment, the judge noted that there had been a number of Russian Federation cases where no evidence had been called and, as in Mr Zmikhnovskiy’s case, insufficient information had been provided to the UK court about prison conditions. The judge continued that it was fast becoming her view that the Russian Federation should support any request for extradition with evidence, such as a video or photographs of any cell subject to an assurance. The judge noted that the requesting state should re-consider its view that experts are not allowed to see the facilities in question.