A British woman is suing Portuguese authorities for wrongful imprisonment and mental - wodada - 11-07-2011 06:46 PM
A British woman is suing Portuguese authorities for wrongful imprisonment and mental anguish after being arrested for a supposed crime committed by her former boyfriend.
Tracey Molamphy's ordeal began in 2008 while travelling with her then-partner, Lee Chapman, in Germany and her name was flagged on an immigration database, Britain's Daily Mail has reported.
Miss Molamphy was strip-searched and imprisoned in a German cell for two weeks with a heroin addict.
"German officials made the arrest as the result of an incident which took place in 1996 while Miss Molamphy and Mr Chapman were holidaying in Portugal," The Mail said.
"Mr Chapman was unknowingly in possession of £120 in counterfeit notes and when he tried to get the money changed, the couple were arrested.
"They were detained for 24 hours but, after a brief hearing conducted entirely in Portuguese, were released without charge - or so they thought - and simply ordered to leave Portugal on the next flight out."
The couple travelled regularly throughout Europe without concern, until Miss Molamphy was arrested in Munich.
"It transpired that Portuguese authorities had charged Miss Molamphy with being an accessory to forgery and that, under European Arrest Warrant legislation introduced in 2003, she could be detained and extradited anywhere within the EU without evidence," The Mail reported.
"Mr Chapman escaped similar charges because Lisbon officials did not have his address."
Miss Molamphy, 40, said she and Mr Chapman had attempted to explain to authorities that they had arrested the wrong person, but "they took no notice".
She was hours away from being extradited to Portugal when her lawyers secured her release.
"Miss Molamphy's team of lawyers were able to obtain bail and the charges were eventually dropped - but only after Miss Molamphy had spent £20,000 in legal costs," The Mail said.
"Had she been extradited back to Portugal, she faced months in custody awaiting trial and up to five years in jail for her 'crime'.
"Miss Molamphy, who split from Mr Chapman in 2009, is now suing the Portuguese authorities for wrongful imprisonment and mental anguish."
She said the ordeal had affected her confidence and left her feeling "really down about it for a long time".
"The incident has been condemned by human rights watchdogs who say that Miss Molamphy's action, which gets underway in Lisbon this week, will be a test for the controversial European Arrest Warrant law," The Mail said.
Fair Trials International chief Jago Russell said Miss Molamphy was the victim of a fast-track extradition system being used for petty crimes and years after the alleged offence.
"Her case is just the tip of the iceberg," Mr Russell said.
"Last year alone, over 1000 people were extradited from the UK under these laws. Until they are reformed, many more are going to suffer this kind of orde
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