Dutch judges have refused to extradite a British drugs smuggler to the UK because of their concerns about the state of a British jail.
The man, who had been living in Spain, was the subject of a European arrest warrant issued in Liverpool in 2017 on charges of trafficking heroin and cocaine, and was picked up in the Netherlands.
The court in Amsterdam said in its ruling it would suspend the extradition pending further information about the prison in Liverpool, which, according to a 2017 report, had some of the ‘most disturbing conditions’ ever seen by prison inspectors.
This, the court said, led to its decision to suspend the extradition because there is a ‘real risk’ the man would be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment if returned to the UK.
The British prisons ministry said in a statement to the court: ‘We do not accept that conditions anywhere in our prisons amount to inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR.’
In addition, the statement said that major improvements had been made to conditions at the prison, and two others cited in the report in Bedford and Birmingham.
In 2017, a Dutch court has refused to extradite eight suspects facing drugs charges in Belgium to the Belgian authorities, saying it needed more information about prison conditions there.
The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture said a month before the case was heard that conditions in Belgium’s prisons were the worst it had seen in Europe, particularly in terms of overcrowding.