Judges in extradition case called on to resign

 

THE HUNGARIAN father of two young children who were killed by an Irish driver has called for the resignation of the Supreme Court judges who prevented the driver’s extradition.

Bence Zoltai said he had been “100 per cent sure” the Supreme Court would uphold an earlier High Court decision allowing for the extradition of Ciarán Tobin. He was shocked when this did not happen.

Mr Tobin (47), who lives in Sutton, Co Dublin, was the driver of a company Volvo that mounted a pavement in Leányfala, near Budapest in Hungary, on April 9th, 2000, killing Marton Zoltai (5) and his sister Petra (2). He was driving at more than 70km/h in a 50km/h zone. He was sentenced in his absence to three years in jail in Hungary in 2002. This was later reduced to 18 months, but he has served no sentence in that country.

Mr Tobin was an executive with Irish Life at the time. The Hungarian authorities tried to extradite him in 2004, but this was turned down by the High Court here on the basis he had not “fled” the jurisdiction. That decision was upheld by the Supreme Court.

The law was changed in 2009 to end the requirement that a person could not be extradited unless they had fled the other jurisdiction.

The High Court agreed in February last year to allow for the extradition of Mr Tobin, but it was turned down by the Supreme Court last week.

Reading from a prepared statement outside the Four Courts yesterday, Mr Zoltai criticised the judgment that prevented the extradition of Mr Tobin.

Citing the judgment read out by Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman on behalf of the five Supreme Court judges, Mr Zoltai maintained there was “no basis” in Irish law to allow Mr Tobin to serve his sentence in Ireland, as he had offered. He took issue with the judges’ statement there were inconsistencies in the way the Hungarian authorities had pursued the case. “I don’t see any inconsistent ground here: Tobin killed my two children, he was sentenced and he fled from the punishment,” Mr Zoltai maintained.

He acknowledged that the failure of the Supreme Court extradition hearing might mean the end of the legal process in Ireland, but said the issue was still being examined at EU level.

Mr Zoltai brought a toy elephant and doll as symbols of his late children and wore a T-shirt stating “Can U help me?” He said Mr Tobin had never apologised for the distress his children’s deaths had caused him and his family.