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Maria Efimova hopeful Greek court will confirm decision against her extradition to Malta

Greek Supreme Court will announce decision on Pilatus Bank whistleblower’s extradition next month

Maria Efimova
Maria Efimova

Pilatus Bank whistleblower Maria Efimova is hopeful that the Greek Supreme Court will confirm the decision against extraditing her to Malta and confirmed that the Greek courts rejected the Maltese authorities’ requests on the grounds of her safety and concerns about justice in Malta.

The Greek Supreme Court convened on Friday to re-examine two Maltese extradition requests and its decision will be made public on 14 June.

In comments to The Shift News, Efimova said “I’m still free so its good news,” adding that she was confident the court will decide in her favour.

“I think it will be positive and hopefully the case will be settled once and for all because I’m exhausted,” she said.

Last month, the Greek head of appeals prosecutor Antonis Liogas had appealed the decision by the Appeals Council which turned down the extradition on grounds that her safety could not be guaranteed in Malta.

However, the Maltese government disseminated “an official translation of the court ruling” which was published by the national broadcaster TVM and other media organisations in an attempt to quell criticism about the rule of law in Malta.

The Maltese translation said that the court decided against extraditing Efimova on the grounds that the official papers were irregularly dated and the offences listed were too minor to justify the issue of an arrest warrant.

In reaction, Efimova accused the Maltese government of publishing “doctored documents”, saying the judgment translated to Maltese was just 21 pages long while the original ruling was 134 pages long.

“I am having the full judgement translated including the section which raised concerns about my safety and justice in Malta,” Efimova said.

The Russian whistleblower had fled Malta last year after saying that she feared for her life and that of her family, including her elderly father in Moscow who she said was being intimidated by “dodgy people.”

Casa says Greek court focusing on Pilatus Bank dealings 

On Friday, MEP David Casa was among those who testified in front of the Greek Supreme Court and in comments to The Shift News he said the interest of the judges was focused on the now notorious Pilatus Bank and “the information that Maria provided as a source that has now been confirmed to be true.”

The MEP added that “Maria has proved to be a credible witness to crime and corruption. She should have been protected. Instead she was discredited and vilified. The judges also showed an interest in the proportionality of requesting a European Arrest Warrant over such trivial accusations. The judges will deliberate for longer to decide on the appeal than in the last case – we should know the outcome on 14 June.”

Efimova is a material witness in investigations on corruption and money laundering in Malta, involving Pilatus Bank and government members exposed by Panama Papers and Malta’s anti-money laundering agency, the FIAU.

Pilatus Bank has had its assets frozen after the bank’s chairman and owner, Iranian Ali Sadr Hasheminejad was arrested and charged in the US for busting American sanctions against Iran.

Efimova testified in front of a magisterial inquiry into allegations that the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife was the owner of a Panama offshore company called Egrant Inc, which declaration of trust the whistleblower says she had seen while working at Pilatus Bank.

Efimova’s claims about Pilatus Bank were first reported by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a car bomb on 16 October 2017.

In the run-up to last year’s general election, Caruana Galizia published Efimova’s account, which included details about an alleged $1 million transfer to Egrant from Azerbaijan’s ruling family. The allegations have been denied by Pilatus Bank and Muscat but a magisterial inquiry is still ongoing.

The European Parliament, alarmed by the Maltese journalist’s assassination, asked European Union member states, including Malta, to protect Efimova and grant her asylum as she had been harassed and forced to leave Malta.

MEPs and civil society have repeatedly called on Greek authorities not to extradite Efimova to Malta.

“We call on the Greek authorities to provide Maria Efimova with protection and safeguard her security and that of her family and to not return her to Malta,” the MEPs said following her arrest in Athens.

Malta issued an international arrest warrant after Efimova failed to attend court hearings into a criminal complaint filed against her by her former employer Pilatus Bank.

The woman is the subject of two criminal proceedings. She is accused of defrauding Pilatus Bank of some €2,000 and of having made false accusations against Superintendent Denis Theuma and inspectors Jonathan Ferris and Lara Butters.

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