Extradition specialists predicted yesterday that Phillip Harkins, a British man accused of murder in the US, would soon be on a flight to America after European human rights judges rejected his appeal.
The ruling yesterday at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) brought to an end 14 years of legal battles. The court’s Grand Chamber rejected Harkins’ second appeal for being “substantially the same” as one rejected in 2012. Lawyers for Harkins told the court that the US procedure of life without parole breached article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right not to suffer inhuman or degrading treatment, and he could therefore not be extradited.
The Strasbourg judges disagreed and noted that there was a system in Florida whereby clemency could be granted. Lawyers pointed out that four years ago, the ECHR ruled that for a life sentence not to constitute inhuman and degrading treatment it must include at least the possibility of review and release.
Lawyers said that yesterday’s ruling was not surprising. Danielle Reece-Greenhalgh, of the London law firm Corker Binning, said: “On the facts of the case, it would appear that Mr Harkins at least has the possibility, however slim, of release under this system.”
Ben Keith, a barrister at 5 St Andrew’s Hill chambers, described the ruling as “the end of the road for Mr Harkins as there are no further appeals available to him and I expect him to be extradited in the near future”.