European warrants need reform, says acquitted Symeou

A man cleared of manslaughter following the death of a teenager at a Greek nightclub has called for reform of European extradition laws.

Andrew Symeou, 23, from Enfield, lost a lengthy extradition fight before having to spend a year in a Greek jail.

He was cleared in June of killing Jonathan Hiles, 18, from Cardiff, who died of a brain injury after falling from a dance podium in Zakynthos.

Mr Symeou said: "I want to stop this happening to innocent people."

The Bournemouth University student was accused of punching the teenager in the face, knocking him out in the process and causing him to fall from the podium. He had denied being in the nightclub at the time.

'Flawed evidence'

Mr Symeou had been held in Greece since his extradition in July 2009, 11 months in prison and a year on bail.

He said: "The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has to be modified. My case highlights every single flaw with it.

"Judges in the UK had little power to prevent the extradition even though the evidence was flawed."

The EAW system has been in effect since 2004. The goal was to make extraditions across Europe more efficient.

Image caption Jago Russell of Fair Trials International said Mr Symeou should never have been extradited

Fair Trials International supported Mr Symeou and his lawyers in fighting the extradition.

Jago Russell, Fair Trials International chief executive, said: "Whatever we threw at the British Courts they said their hands were tied and they couldn't stop it.

Court delays

"Cases like Andrew's demonstrate there is an urgent need for reform of the European Arrest Warrant."

Mr Russell criticised the Greek justice system for bringing the case to court in the first place, and constant delays in the trial which meant Mr Symeou fought for three years to clear his name.

A Home Office spokesperson said it was studying recommendations made in an independent review into the UK's extradition arrangements, and would respond "in due course".

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