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Supreme Court clears way for US extradition of Dublin man on child pornography charges

Now aged in his early thirties, Eric Eoin Marques is wanted by US authorities.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

Updated Mar 20th 2019, 4:35 PM

THE SUPREME COURT has cleared the way for the extradition to the United States of Eric Eoin Marques, a man accused of being the world’s biggest facilitator of child porn.

The decision brings to an end Marques’s lengthy legal battle before the Irish courts against his extradition.

Today, a five-judge Supreme Court unanimously dismissed his appeal against a decision of the High Court and Court of Appeal that he be surrendered to the US authorities.

Now aged in his early thirties, Marques is wanted by US authorities to face charges relating to conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography, and advertising and distributing child pornography.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation claims he is owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting.

Marques, with an address at Mountjoy Square, Dublin, has been in custody since his arrest in August 2013 after being refused bail over concerns including he represented a flight risk and may interfere with evidence.

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

The appeal, aimed at halting his surrender, centred around the DPP’s decision not to prosecute him in Ireland for the same offences the US authorities want to prosecute him for.

His lawyers asked the Supreme Court whether the Minister for Justice was under an obligation to seek reasons from the Director of Public Prosecutions as to why Marques was not being prosecuted in Ireland for the offences he is accused of.

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

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

Court’s decision

Giving the court’s decision, Justice Peter Charleton said what was at issue in the appeal was the nature of the Minister for Justice’s discretion under the 1965 Extradition Act to decline to extradite a person, even though the courts have enabled extradition and no prosecution is to proceed.

The judge said that under the 1965 Act the Minister when fulfilling international obligations on behalf of the state which are separate from the courts, retains an entitlement to refuse extradition of a suspect.

He added that the Minister “was not under an obligation to seek reasons from the DPP as to why a suspect is not being prosecuted in Ireland”, and has a separate function from the DPP.

In addition, Justice Charleton said that the reasons given by the Minister in the circumstances of this case not to seek reasons from the DPP why Marques was not to be prosecuted in Ireland were adequate, the judge added.

In all the circumstances the judge said the appeal should be dismissed.

Justice William McKechnie, Justice John McMenamin, Justice Iseult O’Malley and Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan all concurred with Justice Charleton’s decision.

The court then lifted the stay on the extradition order made by the lower courts clearing the way for Marques’ surrender to the US authorities.

Marques was not present in court for today’s judgement.

Order for extradition

In 2015, the High Court made an order for his extradition.

That decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal and leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, and an application to have the case considered by the European Court of Human Rights was refused.

He was due to be extradited in but wrote to the Minister for Justice requesting that the extradition not proceed.

The Minister signed an order on 31 May 2017 directing Marques surrender.

That decision was then challenged in the courts.

In November 2017, Justice Aileen Donnelly dismissed that action, and her judgement was upheld last year by the Court of Appeal.

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About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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