Lynn seeks better jail conditions in Brazil

Proof of university degree may secure him a place in prison’s special unit

Tue, Sep 3, 2013, 18:39

The legal team in Brazil of fugitive solicitor Michael Lynn plan to present the Brazilian authorities with proof of his university degree in the hope that it will secure him a place in a special unit in the overcrowded prison where he is being detained.

Mr Lynn’s wife Bríd obtained a copy of his degree after being advised that college graduates and ex-police officers in Brazilian prisons are routinely given the right to special accommodation away from other detainees.

The solicitor and property developer, who fled Ireland in 2007 with debts of €80 million, spent the weekend in a holding cell with up to 40 other prisoners after being arrested last Thursday on foot of an extradition request from the Irish authorities. It is understood no date has been set for a court hearing, but he is expected to vigorously contest any attempt to send him back to Ireland.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said this morning that he was determined Mr Lynn would be brought before an Irish court.

“What I want to see is, of course, that Mr Lynn returns to Ireland, to our courts, to face legal prosecutions for the very serious criminal offences with which he is charged,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

Mr Lynn’s wife, who is heavily pregnant and has been staying with family friends in recent days, has been allowed to visit her husband a number of times at Cotel, the run-down facility where he is being held outside the north-eastern city of Recife.

She has been told that in Brazilian prisons, university graduates are often given special conditions, including private cells and better food. Cotel is notoriously overcrowded, regularly holding more than three times its capacity of 700. “It’s three-and-a-half days now without being moved [from a holding cell], and she is desperate that he is moved,” said Mark Astle, the director of the language school where Mr Lynn has been working for the past year.

The family have been living in the northeastern state of Pernambuco for about two years, and the couple secured permanent residence after the birth of their son here.


Crime rate
They rent a house in Candeias, a seaside suburb where unpaved roads and overflowing sewers are common but where rising property prices and high demand have set off an apartment-building boom. The crime rate is high in the area, and many houses are surrounded by barbed wire and security cameras.

The beach is off-limits to bathers because of the sharks that come close to the shore.

Mr Lynn earned €640 a month as an English-language tutor at Britanic language school, where staff described him yesterday as a charming, popular colleague. “He’s a very gifted, incredibly charismatic guy,” Mr Astle said.

The 44-year-old was a member of the Caxagna Golf and Country Club, the only one in Recife, and would occasionally join his colleagues for after-work drinks.

Mr Astle said Mr Lynn had told him he was “supposed to answer questions in a civil court” and felt he could not return to Ireland. “He didn’t try to keep it from us, to be honest,” he said. “Everybody he met professionally, he told them, but I think most people didn’t really want to know – me included.”

He is facing dozens of fraud-related charges in Ireland.