British-Iraqi man to be extradited to France to face people trafficking charges


A British-Iraqi man accused of being the head of a criminal organisation that smuggled people into the UK is to be extradited to France.

Rekawt Kayani, 34, is wanted to face trafficking charges which could see him jailed for 10 years.

The charges include facilitating the entry of migrants and conspiracy to commit the same.

He was apprehended on a European arrest warrant at his home in the Normanton area of Derby in May.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser told the hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court she rejected three issues raised by his defence.

In her judgement she said: "In light of the serious nature of the allegations, I have taken the view that extradition would not be disproportionate."

Kayani appeared in the dock wearing a blue tracksuit and was accompanied by a Kurdish interpreter. He spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and that he understood the judgment.

At a previous hearing the court heard how the European arrest warrant claims Kayani is the head of a trafficking organisation, specifically an Iraqi Kurdish network, which facilitated movement to Britain from its base camp in France.

The judgment said Kayani is alleged to have facilitated the admission of people to the UK from a migrant camp in Grande-Synthe, France.

Intercept material, ground surveillance and statements from Polish drivers are among the evidence which could be used against Kayani.

The investigation stretches back to 2014 and it is alleged that Kayani was linked to numerous smuggling instances between December 2014 and January this year.

His defence had previously argued that the arrest warrant did not say in sufficient detail what Kayani was supposed to have done.

It was suggested the case could be dealt with in Britain as some of the alleged offending and potential harm took place here.

But District Judge Baraitser rejected defence claims that the European arrest warrant was "insufficiently particularised" and said the details within it were sufficient to "enable you to understand" the charges.

She said the arrest warrant is clear on Kayani's role and sets out the nature of the organisation - "an Iraqi-Kurdish network facilitating immigration to Great Britain" - and that it says he was the "organiser" of a specific number of passages which allegedly took place on November 4 last year and January 10 and 16 this year.

She also rejected suggestions that it was unclear whether French authorities had made a decision to charge him, saying it was clear they had. 

Although Judge Baraitser accepted that a substantial harm from his alleged activities could have been primarily in the UK, because there has already been a significant investigation in France, he should be tried there and not in the UK.

"In light of the available evidence it is possible to conclude that Mr Kayani carried out his role remotely and that he performed his role from the UK," she added in her judgment.

Calling the allegations "serious ones", she added: "I consider that if convicted he is likely to receive a significant sentence of imprisonment."

Kayani was remanded in custody and told he has seven days to appeal against the order. If no appeal is made he will be extradited within 10 days.