Requests to extradite fugitive Egyptian officials and businessmen to Cairo will take a long time and requires patience. This is the message from a senior British official.
“Extradition of any person to any country is very, very complicated and takes a very, very long time because of the commitments imposed on us by the European courts,” the senior UK official told Ahram Online.
“Our government could not take the decision itself. It has to respect the legal process which we are committed to.”
The official, who is part of the team dealing with Egyptian affairs at the UK Foreign Office, denied Egypt had offered to sign a bilateral extradition treaty.
While the idea of an extradition treaty had been discussed in a broad sense, the official said “[the Egyptians] have not asked to put in place an extradition treaty.”
Egypt has repeatedly said that it is very keen to sign such treaty with the UK.
The Egyptian justice ministry said in May that it “wanted to negotiate a draft treaty on the extradition of criminals.”
However, the UK official said “[The Egyptians] did not give us a draft or talk specifically about this.”
Although there is no a bilateral extradition treaty, the UK government has the legal right to consider any Egyptian extradition request according to special legal arrangements.
Egypt has already requested the extradition of a number of businessmen and former regime officials from the UK, including former finance minister Youssef Boutros Ghali, who fled Egypt in February 2011.
The official refused to comment on individual cases, but confirmed the extradition process could take years. He pointed out that although there is an extradition treaty between the USA and the UK, it took about 8 years for the UK to extradite terrorist suspect Abu Hamza Al-Masri to the US.
Legal criteria must be fulfilled, the official added.
Any extradition decision can be refused or stopped if it is incompatible with the person’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, which is part of UK law.