High Court refused to surrender man wanted in Italy for alleged drugs offences

High Court refused to surrender man wanted in Italy for alleged drugs offences

The High Court has refused to surrender a 48-year-old man wanted in Italy for alleged offences concerning large quantities of cocaine.

Yemi Moshood Olatunde (48), with an address at Sundale Parade, Tallaght, Dublin,was arrested in October last year by gardai on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Italian authorities.

The High Court heard that Mr Olatunde was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Italy because he allegedly associated with other persons in order to commit offences concerning the purchase, transfer, distribution, trade and unlawful possession of large quantities of cocaine.

Mr Olatunde AKA Aro, a taxi driver until he went into custody last October, denied that he is the person sought on the European Arrest Warrant.

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly adjourned proceedings last month (June 10th) in circumstances where the High Court had sought further information from the Italian judicial authorities four months ago concerning the issue of trial in absentia and the Italians did not appear to have answered the questions.

Ms Justice Donnelly said it appeared to her that the information requested had not been identified by the Italian judicial authorities and the questions asked of them were not actually answered; perhaps on the basis of a misunderstanding, she added.

She said it was of “major concern” that the judicial authorities could wait three months to respond to the request.

Ms Justice Donnelly made a formal ruling in the High Court today that Mr Olatunde's surrender be prohibited.

"I'm going to make a formal ruling in the case of Yemi Moshood Olatunde that the European Arrest Warrant does not state the matters required and that under part 3, surrendor is prohibited," she said.

"On the basis of all the information that has been provided to the court over a period of time, it is absolutely clear he (Olatunde) wasn't made aware of the scheduled place and date of the trial," she continued.

"Its abundantly clear that the lawyer in this case was appointed as his lawyer to represent him in absentia," she added.

"It's further clear that no mandate was present for him in the case. In those circumstances I am obliged under the terms of the act to refuse his surrender," she concluded.