Michael Lynn: Brazil court clears way for former solicitor’s extradition

Decision leaves no legal recourse in efforts to avoid return to face charges in Ireland

The court’s decision leaves Michael Lynn with no further legal recourse in his campaign to avoid returning to Ireland.

The court’s decision leaves Michael Lynn with no further legal recourse in his campaign to avoid returning to Ireland.

 

Brazil’s supreme court on Tuesday removed the final legal barrier to the extradition back to Ireland of fugitive former solicitor Michael Lynn to face charges relating to the collapse of his property empire.

At a sitting of a court panel in Brasília Marco Aurélio, the supreme court judge assigned to the case, answered legal queries relating to the court’s decision of December 2014 to extradite Mr Lynn.

Execution of the 2014 ruling was delayed after Mr Lynn’s defence exercised his right to seek clarification of the court’s decision in an apparent bid to have it overturned.

Justice Aurélio’s only material change to his original ruling was to alter the date of Mr Lynn’s arrest on the case file but this does not affect the original decision to extradite. The court’s decision leaves Mr Lynn with no further legal recourse in his campaign to avoid returning to Ireland.

The court’s clarifications will now have to be published in its official journal. That could take up to a number of weeks and once published the case will be turned over to Brazil’s foreign ministry which will coordinate Mr Lynn’s handover with the Irish authorities in a process that is be expected to take about two months from publication.

Mr Lynn’s defence apparently sought to use the clarification phase to try and expose an error in the court’s original ruling in order to overturn it, according to the Brazilian legal team hired by the Irish state.

The strategy was dismissed as a desperate delaying tactic by Brazilian legal experts who pointed out that in 76 extradition cases between 1975 and Mr Lynn’s arrest in which the defence sought clarification of a decision to extradite, not once was the original ruling overturned.

Tuesday’s ruling is a victory for Irish authorities which meticulously prepared the legal groundwork for an extradition despite the absence of an extradition treaty between Ireland and Brazil. It also demonstrates Brazilian determination to end its former reputation as a welcome refuge for fugitives on the run from other jurisdictions.

The year-long delay in providing clarification on the extradition decision was due to a massive backlog at Brazil’s top court which receives about 50,000 cases each year. It is one of the only supreme courts in the world that must hear every individual extradition case and is swamped by appeals against lower court rulings on matters of no constitutional import such as habeas corpus cases.

Mr Lynn was arrested in Brazil in August 2013 and has been held since in a prison in the city of Recife while fighting efforts to return him to Ireland.

From Crossmolina, Co Mayo, Mr Lynn fled Ireland in October 2007 with debts of €80 million and faces 33 charges prepared by the Director of Public Prosecutions related to the collapse of his property business.

For the extradition to proceed many of these will be dropped to focus just on those relating to alleged theft, a condition set by the Brazilian court.

* This article was edited on February 17th, 2016. An earlier version described Michael Lynn as a solicitor. He is a former solicitor.