News | Sunday, 28 February 2010

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Extradicted Briton claims he was advised to abscond Malta by High Commission

A British national appealing a four-year jail term after being extradicted back to Malta, claims he was advised by the British High Commission to leave the island and flee to France where he would be given an emergency passport and proceed to the UK.
Tristan Scott Haynes, 41, left Malta on a yacht to Sicily and travelled by train to Paris where he was given a passport by the British embassy there, and proceeded to the UK but was re-arrested in April 2009 after the Maltese police issued a European Arrest Warrant.
Haynes says he escaped because he claims he was wrongly accused over a road-rage incident, and then denied bail, imprisoned for three months, and even received death treats from the victim in his case.
Asked to comment on claims that he was advised to flee the island, a spokesperson for the British High Commission told MaltaToday that “it is standard policy for the High Commission not to comment on individual consular cases.”
Haynes was jailed for four years last January by Magistrate Jacqueline Padovani Grima after being found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to two elderly men in a skirmish over a minor road accident on the Bahar Ic-Caghaq coast road in May 2003.
In passing judgement, the court said Haynes had failed to demonstrate any physical restraint, and as a black-belt practitioner had engaged two elderly men, one significantly smaller than him in stature, in an “uncontrolled display of his art in fighting”. Furthermore, the court said he “tried to hide his knowledge of martial arts from the court.”
During the compilation of evidence, the court had been told that Haynes used “kung-fu moves” to strike one of the men to the ground.
In court Haynes denied engaging in martial arts since practising the discipline as a teenager, and that he acted in self-defence to his attackers, one of whom threatened him with a rock.
The Briton and his family have now initiated an internet campaign that has attracted human rights group Fair Trials International, and British Labour MP Patrick Hall.
London-based Fair Trials confirmed they have taken the Haynes case “on board” but refused to comment prior to the hearing of his appeal.
Haynes is contesting the legality of the European Arrest Warrant issued by the Maltese authorities. In October, the UK High Court ruled that Haynes was not to be extradicted due to concerns raised over the warrant, but that ruling was reversed by a Westminster Magistrates Court, which ordered the extradiction.
Hayes was immediately remanded to Corradino prison on his arrival to Malta.
Haynes contends that the two elderly men – David Shepard and Joseph Attard – were untruthful in their accusations. He points out flaws in the doctor’s diagnosis of Attard’s condition, who was initially certified as in “danger of dying” and which triggered the magisterial inquiry in the first place over attempted murder charges.
Haynes says Attard suffers from acute epilepsy, and was mistakenly diagnosed when taken into hospital.
Haynes also claims his version of events was not believed because he was a foreigner, and has set up his own personal website on the case. In claims with UK newspaper Bedfordshire on Sunday, Haynes said he holds evidence “that the Maltese magistrates made mistakes and altered the charge sheet and the dates. We will continue to fight the decision.”
He added: “Nothing has come in our favour, but we have been in this position before and we will win.”
Friends of Haynes have reacted to the news of his sentencing to four years in prison. Dr Peter J. Shield wrote in The Times blog in defence of Haynes, saying he has not engaged in Kung Fu since he was 10 years of age. Another friend wrote: “I have know Tristan for over 10 years, everyday we hear lesser charges for much, much more, foreigners always get more baggage from the local authorities, and that’s a fact.”

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