Tihomir Mak secures discharge following withdrawal of a Croatian arrest warrant on the basis of limitation

27 March 2024

District Judge Snow sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court discharged Mr BH, a Croatian national living in the UK with a young family, following the withdrawal of the arrest warrant in Croatia. Croatia issued the warrant in 2018 and sought Mr BH’s surrender to serve a one-year prison sentence for fraud and forgery, after convicting him in absence in 2017. Mr BH was arrested in London in March 2023, released on conditional bail and his extradition hearing before Westminster Magistrates’ court was due to take place in July 2023.

Mr BH’s legal team quickly identified matters of Croatian law relevant to the extradition proceedings and instructed an expert in Croatian law to opine on whether Mr BH had a de facto right to a retrial in Croatia upon surrender, and whether the limitation period for the execution of his sentence had expired. Mr BH successfully applied to vacate his extradition hearing for this evidence to be prepared. Westminster Magistrates’ court relisted his hearing for November 2023.

The expert evidence confirmed the limitation period for the execution of the sentence had expired, but the Croatian issuing authority disputed this finding. On advice and with the assistance of his legal team, Mr BH then commenced proceedings in Croatia to obtain a judicial finding on whether the limitation period had expired. The first instance decision found that limitation had not expired but did so on a misunderstanding of English procedure. Mr BH appealed, and the first instance decision in Croatia was quashed and remitted back for a fresh decision. Mr BH then applied for and secured a second adjournment of his extradition hearing in the UK, this time allowing time for the issuing judicial authority to complete proceedings on limitation. The extradition hearing was relisted again, for March 2024.

In February 2024, after the joint work and submissions by legal teams in the UK and Croatia, the Croatian judicial authority conclusively found in Mr BH’s favour and determined that the limitation period on executing the sentence had expired in June 2023 and it discontinued the sentence execution proceedings against Mr BH. This led to the warrant being withdrawn and Mr BH was discharged on 5 March 2024, three weeks before his extradition hearing was meant to take place.

Mr BH was represented by Tihomir Mak of Chambers’ extradition and international team. Tihomir was instructed by Mr James Chaplin of Hollingsworth Edwards.