Jailed barrister asks ECJ to change criminal code in Portugal

An English barrister who has spent 18 months in a Portugese jail without trial has filed a suit with the European Court of Justice to try to change the country's criminal code.

Law professor David Lowry, a director of financial services company Paramount, was arrested in April 1997 when the Portuguese share authority raided the company's Lisbon offices

Lowry was only charged a year later, in accordance with Portugal's criminal code of procedure.

His criminal trial on four charges including fraud will begin on 21 September. Lowry has described the charges as “ludicrous”.

Lowry's lawyers Gudrun Paraise and Doughty Street barrister Edward Fitzgerald QC have filed the suit in a bid to get the Portuguese criminal code changed.

They have also enlisted the help of the new Solicitor General, Ross Cranston QC, a former law lecturer colleague of Lowry's at Warwick University.

Cranston wrote to Paraise saying that although he cannot visit Lowry in jail because of other commitments, he will “follow the case with interest” and wants to remain “informed” of any progress.

Paraise, who specialises in European human rights law, said the Portuguese code of criminal procedure – which allows imprisonment without charge – was in direct conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights.

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