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Sunday 17 November 2019

Supreme Court clears US extradition of child porn accused

Eric Eoin Marques
Eric Eoin Marques

The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the extradition to the US of Eric Eoin Marques, who is accused of being the world's biggest facilitator of child pornography.

The decision brings to an end a lengthy battle by Mr Marques before the Irish courts aimed at preventing his extradition.

Yesterday morning, five judges of the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed his appeal against a decision of the High Court that he be surrendered to the US authorities.

That decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Now aged in his early 30s, Mr Marques is wanted by US authorities to face charges relating to advertising and distributing child pornography.

They also want to put charges of conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography to him.

Mr Marques is alleged to be the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting.

Mr Marques, of Mountjoy Square, Dublin, has been in custody since his arrest in August 2013 after being refused bail over concerns that he was a flight risk and that he could interfere with evidence.

Last year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear his appeal on the basis that it raised points of law that were of public significance.

Dismissed

The appeal, which was aimed at blocking his surrender, centred around the Director of Public Prosecution's (DPP) decision not to prosecute him in Ireland for the same offences the US wants to prosecute him for.

His lawyers asked the Supreme Court whether the justice minister was under an obligation to seek reasons from the DPP as to why Mr Marques was not being prosecuted for the offences in Ireland.

The court was also asked if the reasons given by the minister in making the decision to extradite him were adequate.

The State, represented by Ronan Kennedy, had argued that the appeal be dismissed.

Giving the court's decision Mr Justice Peter Charleton said the justice minister "was not under an obligation to seek reasons from the DPP as to why a suspect is not being prosecuted in Ireland".

The minister, who under the 1965 Extradition Act can refuse to order a suspect's extradition, has a separate function from the DPP, he added.

In addition, Mr Justice Charleton said that the reasons given by the minister in the circumstances of this case not to seek reasons from the DPP were adequate. Mr Justice William McKechnie, Mr Justice John McMenamin, Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley and Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan all concurred with the decision.

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