Greek prosecutor appeals Maria Efimova extradition ruling

The request for her extradition was turned down by a Greek court on Thursday

A Greek prosecutor has appealed a decision handed down yesterday not to extradite Maria Efimova to Malta
A Greek prosecutor has appealed a decision handed down yesterday not to extradite Maria Efimova to Malta

A Greek prosecutor has appealed a decision not to extradite Maria Efimova to Malta, according to media reports.

On Thursday, Pilatus Bank whistle-blower Maria Efimova was freed after a court in Greece ruled that there were enough grounds for a request for her extradition to Malta to be rejected.

Efimova, a former employee at Pilatus Bank, was issued with a European arrest warrant last year after she twice failed to turn up in the Maltese court to face charges of fraud filed by her former employer.

While MaltaToday has not yet seen a copy of the judgment handed down by the court, several Greek media outlets have stated the EAW was not accepted because the EAWs issued by Malta were vague, and had been issued on the same day the Maltese arrest warrant was issued. They also added that the crimes did not warrant a EAW.

Her lawyer Alexandros Papastergiopoulous told MaltaToday on Thursday that the court had decided not to accept Malta’s request for a number of reasons, including concerns about whether she would be granted a fair trial, as well as whether she would be safe if she were returned to Malta.

He described the court’s decision as a “victory for the rule of law”.

Reacting to the news, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the courts’ decision not to extradite Efimova did not reflect badly on the Maltese Courts, the government or the rule of law in Malta.

“I have not yet seen the full sentence and cannot comment it,” he said. “It was not the Maltese government that had asked for Efimova’s arrest, but the courts that had independently asked for it.”

Efimova is currently facing two sets of criminal proceedings in Malta. She has been accused by Pilatus Bank of defrauding it of roughly €2,000 in one case, and by the police of having made false accusations against Superintendent Denis Theuma, inspector Lara Butters and Jonathan Ferris, who had interrogated her.

Both cases happened in 2016 and pre-date the public fallout of the Egrant affair.

Efimova had worked at Pilatus Bank between January and March 2016 before being laid off. She had instituted a case in the Industrial Tribunal against Pilatus for unpaid wages.

Efimova has claimed to have seen documents while working at the bank that show how the Panama company Egrant belonged to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife, Michelle. She also alleged that the bank had processed a $1 million transaction from Azerbaijan to Michelle Muscat.

The Muscats deny the allegations, describing them as “the biggest political lie” to ever be told in Malta.

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