Phillip Harkins loses fight against US extradition

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Phillip Harkins has always denied being involved in the robbery in 1999

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled a Scottish man should be tried for murder in the US following a record-breaking extradition battle.

It said Phillip Harkins’ human rights would not be breached if he was jailed for life without parole in Florida.

The 38-year-old has been in jail in the UK since 2003, after being accused over a 1999 drugs-related attempted robbery.

He has always denied being involved in the killing and returned to Scotland in 2002 after being released on bail.

After his return to the UK, he was convicted and jailed for dangerous driving after killing a 62-year-old woman in a car crash in Greenock.

Following that sentence, the US authorities sought his extradition for the 1999 murder – triggering the unprecedented legal battle that has been before the European Court twice.

‘Degrading treatment’

US prosecutors assured the UK that it would not seek the death penalty for Mr Harkins were he to be convicted of the murder.

But his lawyers have argued for years that the prospect of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole once reformed constituted inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Harkins lost all stages of his legal battle in the British courts, and the Strasbourg judges previously ruled against him until a legal twist meant he could try to make a second appeal in 2015.

In a short statement on Monday morning, the Grand Chamber of the court said that the case would not be re-opened, meaning it would no longer stand in the way of the extradition.

Under the usual procedures, the UK is now expected to inform the US that the extradition can go ahead, so that its authorities can make arrangements to transfer Mr Harkins to American custody.

Mr Harkins moved to the US with his family when he was 14.

Shortly before his 21st birthday he was accused of shooting dead a man in Jackonsville, Florida, during an attempted robbery.

Phillip Harkins loses fight against US extradition

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