A convicted people trafficker will not be extradited back to Romania because he may endure inhumane jail conditions, the High Court ruled today.
Vasile-Florin Carpaci, 38, won his appeal against being ordered to return to his native country amid claims of overcrowding within its prisons.
A judge cited the lack of assurances from the Romanian authorities about the type of regime he would face.
Carpaci, who was on bail pending the outcome of his legal challenge, now no longer faces the threat of being sent back to Romania.
Extraditon proceedings were launched against him after he was detained under a European Arrest Warrant in Lisburn, Co Antrim in 2015.
He was being sought to serve a six-year sentence imposed on him back in December 2009 for people trafficking offences.
Papers in the case referred to his alleged links to a organised crime group involved in recruiting and sending people abroad to work for them.
It was claimed that he had recruited people with promises of well-paid jobs in Spain.
They were then allegedly forced into work, with all earnings taken from them.
In October 2015 the Recorder of Belfast ordered Carpaci’s extradition to serve his jail term.
But that decision was challenged on the grounds that he may endure inhumane or degrading treatment contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Carpaci’s barrister, Sean Devine, based the claim was based on overcrowding within Romanian prisons.
During the appeal hearing High Court judges received reports on the detention facilities in the southeastern state and sought assurances from the requesting authorities.
Additional information was sought about a prison in Arad, and whether Carpaci would serve all his period of detention there.
Response letters indicated he would have a minimum personal space, including bed and related furniture, of three square metres in a closed regime, and two square metres in a semi-open or open regime.
But Mr Justice Burgess identified a lack of information and assurances about where Carpaci would be detained.
“There is no detail given of the conditions to which he would be extradited,” he said.
The judge ruled: “The court therefore cannot be satisfied that the risk of degrading our inhuman treatment can be discounted if the court were to extradite Mr Carpaci, and therefore the appeal is granted.”
Accompanied by supporters and lawyers, Carpaci walked free from court following the verdict.