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Court Backs US Extradition Of Severely Disabled Mother On Kidnap Charges

April 22, 2010

Liz Prosser fled across the Atlantic 12 years ago with her then six-year-old daughter Tamara to avoid the pair being separated.

Lawyers for Mrs Prosser, 59, who lives near Tregaron, West Wales, said she could now barely travel short distances.

They argued in the High Court in London that a combination of severe physical and psychiatric illnesses meant extradition would cause her “extreme pain” and put her at “high risk” of suicide.

They said removing Mrs Prosser, who requires a stairlift, bathlift and specialist wheelchair, would be “an affront to fundamental humanitarian principles”.

Her alleged offences were “relatively minor” and unlikely to result in custodial sentences, they claimed.

Sir Anthony May, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Mr Justice Foskett ruled there was a risk of suicide, but that risk fell “significantly short” of the high legal threshold that would have meant extradition breaching Mrs Prosser’s human rights.

They said assurances had been given that Mrs Prosser would receive appropriate physical and medical treatment on her journey across the Atlantic in the custody of American marshals and on arrival in the country.

They concluded extradition would serve “the necessary democratic aim of preventing crime and maintaining public order by adhering to extradition treaties”.

Mrs Prosser was given 28 days to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Afterwards she said she was “absolutely devastated” by the ruling.

Now bed-bound and receiving chemotherapy in hospital once a week, she said: “What’s the point in going on? If I’m forced on to that plane, it won’t be extradition – it will be execution.”

Her second husband, Phillip, who cares for her, said: “Whoever signs the extradition warrant will be signing Liz’s death warrant.”

He told a newspaper: “She is not a terrorist, a murderer or a drug lord. She’s a mother who did what any other parent would do, desperately trying to cling on to her child.”

Earlier, Hugo Keith, QC, appearing for the Home Secretary and supporting the American extradition request, told the court a degree of exaggeration of Mrs Prosser’s symptoms could not be excluded, and “extreme pain” during the extradition process could be mitigated by the use of a stretcher and analgesics.

The court heard that Mrs Prosser suffers from a combination of conditions in which “stress is an important component”.

They included Crohn’s disease, acute fibromyalgia, shingles, severe depression and possible traumatic stress disorder.

Mrs Prosser is wanted for trial in Pennsylvania for allegedly abducting her daughter from her first husband in March 1998, at a time when the child should have been in his care.

She said she believed she was about to be arrested because she had been working in America without the necessary immigration status and would be deported without her daughter, now aged 18.

Mrs Prosser is also accused of fraudulently obtaining $6,750 dollars (£4,512) from a former employer between August and November 1997 by accepting money for fictitious advertisements placed in a magazine.

She denies the allegations.

The court heard Tamara lived with her father in America, but he was content for Mrs Prosser to play an active role in bringing up his daughter.

It was planned she might attend university in Wales and live with her mother.

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