A Romanian prince who has been held in custody for the past two months while battling extradition to his homeland, was granted bail on Monday.

Paul-Philippe al Romaniei, 77,  is wanted to serve faces jail time for a corruption conviction.

He fled Romania in 2020 after he was found guilty over his alleged involvement in the illegal restitution of real estate near Bucharest, about which authorities said that he falsely claimed ownership. Al Romaniei was condemned to three years and four months imprisonment. He has since been living in Paris where he successfully challenged a similar extradition request by the Romanian authorities before the French courts.

He was arrested in Malta in April while attending a conference.

A Magistrates’ Court initially rejected the extradition request after hearing submissions by lawyers who argued that Al Romaniei would suffer a breach of his fundamental human rights if he were sent back to Romania. They claimed that the prince was the victim of political persecution.

However that decision was overturned by another Magistrates’ Court after his case was re-assigned following an appeal by the Attorney General.

Al Romaniei’s lawyers filed proceedings before the constitutional courts, challenging the court’s decision to surrender by arguing that his fundamental human rights were being violated.

But while those proceedings are still ongoing, the prince remained in custody. His lawyers filed an application before the Court of Criminal Appeal, making their case for bail.

After hearing submissions Madam Justice Edwina Grima upheld the request after taking note of Al Romaniei’s previous conduct, the advanced stage of the extradition proceedings and all circumstances of the case.

In its decree the court observed that the Attorney General had objected to bail primarily because Al Romaniei had no ties to Malta and was no longer presumed innocent but was a convicted person facing a custodial sentence. However the court could not ignore the fact that Al Romaniei was 77 years old, suffered certain debilitating illnesses calling for medical attention and also had a fixed address while in Malta.

He had been detained for over two months and the extradition proceedings had extended beyond the 60-day statutory time limit between arrest and surrender.

His lawyers had also filed constitutional proceedings which further prolonged his surrender. Although targeted by a European Arrest Warrant to serve jail time in Romania, that did not bar him from contesting that warrant and its validity in terms of law, observed the judge.

When all was considered, the court upheld the request for bail under various strict conditions including twice daily signing of the bail book, a curfew between 10:00pm and 7:00am and informing the police in case he needed hospitalisation.

Al Romaniei is to deposit €20,000 and bind himself under a €30,000 personal guarantee.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi, Kris Busietta and Alessandro Farrugia are defence counsel.

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