Greece’s supreme court blocks Efimova’s extradition to Malta

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By Stelios Orphanides

Greece’s supreme court on Thursday rejected an appeal against a court decision not to extradite whistleblower Maria Efimova to Malta, Greece’s news site tvxs.gr reported.

Efimova, a former employee at Malta’s Pilatus Bank, was a source for Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who lost her life in a car-bomb in October.

The slain journalist had previously reported about payments made to Egrant Inc.,a Panamanian firm belonging to Michel Muscat, the wife of the Central Mediterranean island state’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. The payments came from an account belonging to the daughter of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev.

“Thank you, Greece!!! And thank you everyone who supported me!!!” Efimova wrote on her Twitter account after the verdict. She extended her thanks to three members of the European Parliament, Malta’s David Casa, Greece’s Stelios Kouloglou, and Portugal’s Ana Gomes, as well as to Greek journalist Lenidas Leontopoulos.

Hours earlier, she had tweeted that she would not follow her lawyer’s advice not to attend the announcement of the court’s decision.

“My lawyer advised me not to appear in the court so as to avoid being arrested if the decision would be negative,” she wrote. “However, I’m not going to hide, I will appear in the court and let it be as it should be”.

Maltese authorities issued a double arrest warrant against her for the alleged embezzlement of €5,000 and defamation of officials. In an interview in January, Efimova, a mother of two, said she left Malta fearing her life.

In March, Cyprus’s Minister of Justice Ionas Nicolaou said that Interpol withdrew a Cypriot warrant against Efimova, after she surrendered to Greek police.

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Stelios Orphanides is a journalist at CyprusBusinessMail.com. To contact Stelios Orphanides: [email protected]