A Romanian prince will not be extradited to his country after a request by the Romanian authorities was turned down by a court in Malta on Monday.

Prince Paul-Philippe, 75, was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to almost 3.5 years in prison for corruption in connection with the illegal restitution of real estate near Bucharest, to which he falsely claimed ownership. He denies the accusations. 

In June 2022, he was apprehended in Paris but a Court of Appeal refused to extradite him to Romania.

He now lives in France but came to Malta last month for a conference and was held on the strength of a European Arrest Warrant.

Magistrate Leonard Caruana declared that there was “a real risk” that the prince would suffer a breach of his fundamental rights if he were sent back to Romania. 

During the Malta court proceedings, a former French prosecutor described the matter as “scandalous.” The prince’s US attorney also testified about the sequence of events leading up to this latest bid by the Romanian authorities. 

Al Romaniei’s Maltese lawyer, Jason Azzopardi, pointed to how the French courts had rejected a similar extradition request, concluding that there was a “real risk” that Al Romaniei’s fundamental rights would be breached.

The original texts of those French judgments were presented in evidence. 

Magistrate Caruana concluded that on the basis of all evidence put forward, if the European Arrest Warrant were to be executed there was a “real risk” that it would result in a breach of the wanted person’s fundamental rights. 

The court thus refused to execute the warrant. 

Al Romaniei will, however, remain in custody for three days until the Attorney General decides whether or not to appeal the decision. 

Defence lawyer Jason Azzopardi indicated that there would likely be a written request for bail pending the lapse of this appeal term. 

Inspector Roderick Spiteri prosecuted. Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Kris Busietta were defence counsel.

Prince Paul-Philippe is the grandson of King Carol II of Romania, through a commoner Zizi Lambrino, in a union that only lasted one year before it was annulled in 1919.

Romania is now a republic, with the last king, King Michael, having abdicated in 1947.

 

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