Brazil extradition: drug smuggling case collapses

Malcolm Hawkes has successfully secured the discharge of a Portuguese national, Mr. Gomes from an extradition request issued by the government of Brazil. The case collapsed after a Sao Paulo court ruled that the evidence was unlikely to be capable of convicting the requested person and the Westminster Magistrates Court found a real risk of a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The result comes almost a calendar year after Mr. Gomes was arrested on an accusation basis. His legal team argued throughout that there was no prima facie case as the entirety of the prosecution rested upon the hearsay evidence of a convicted co-defendant. That co-defendant alleged a third-party told him that Mr. Gomes had paid for the drugs he was to smuggle from Brazil to Europe, allegations which Mr. Gomes had always strenuously denied and for which there was no independent evidence.

Mr. Gomes’ legal team attacked the case from all angles, including the question of Brazilian prison conditions. Relying upon the expert evidence of renowned prison expert, Prof. Juan Mendez, who travelled to Brazil and inspected Itai prison, Mr. Gomes was able to demonstrate that the conditions there would clearly breach the UK’s obligations under Article 3 of the Convention. Moreover, Prof. Mendez also found that the client would also be held in squalid and dangerously overcrowded conditions in Sao Paolo pending transfer. 

The Brazilian government then attempted to claim the client could be held at yet another prison, this time in Brasilia (Papuda prison); yet the evidence was clear that conditions at that prison are even worse than in Sao Paolo or at Itai. The case then collapsed following a habeas corpus challenge brought on behalf of Mr. Gomes by Teixeira Advocates in Sao Paolo before the Brazilian government was able to propose anywhere else.

In Brazil v Gomes, a first instance decision, Malcolm was instructed by Ruta Mikalaite and Gitana Megvine of Oracle Solicitors.