An Algerian-born terror suspect walked free from an Irish high court yesterday when the court refused to extradite him to the US.
Irish citizen Ali Charaf Damache has been living in Ireland for over a decade and is the subject of an extradition request from the US government on two counts of alleged terrorism-related offences. Damache is wanted in the US regarding his alleged conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists by developing a European terrorist cell and an alleged attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism.
Following a two-year legal battle, High Court judge Justice Aileen Donnelly refused the US request to extradite the 50-year-old.
This is the second time a case about Damache’s extradition has been brought to an Irish court. Last December, he won a Supreme Court appeal that overturned the decision of a High Court judge on prosecuting Damache in Ireland. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had previously decided not to prosecute Damache in Ireland and the appeal sought leave to seek a judicial review of the decision and prevent his extradition.
The Supreme Court found in favor of Damache’s appeal for a judicial review on two issues: whether the decision made by the DPP in March 2011 is now reviewable and to investigate whether it was the right of the DPP not to provide any reasons for refusing to prosecute Damache in Ireland.
The original decision by the DPP was made in an attempt to speed up his extradition, but has since resulted in a two-year legal battle and two successful appeals by Damache.
Justice Donnelly stated in her decision that the DPP were not fulfilling their proper responsibility by not investigating and establishing the correct forum in which Damache should be prosecuted: Ireland or the US. She did not, however, completely rule out the possibility of Damache’s future extradition if the State successfully appeals her refusal.
Donnelly also made the decision not to order Irish State prosecutors to reopen the case. This means that the chance of further charges being brought against Damache in Ireland is slight.
Damache is set to serve 45 years in jail if convicted in the US, a term that his lawyers feel would be much less if he were convicted in Ireland. He had been held without bail in Ireland since March 2013 awaiting yesterday’s decision.
He has spent a total of five years in prison in Ireland following his arrest in connection with the failed conspiracy to kill Swedish artist Lars Viks in 2009 for his depiction of the prophet Muhammad.
The court has now freed Damache.
H/T: The Irish Times.