You can run, but it's harder to hide

Rio's out, and other boltholes are being closed to fleeing villains, writes Raymond Whitaker

Skipping off to Rio with the loot has long been a staple of real- life drama (Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs did it) as well as the fictional kind - remember Shallow Grave? But villains are having to seek other boltholes following the signing of an extradition treaty between Britain and Brazil.

Biggs himself is unlikely to be shipped home as a result of the agreement, since Brazilian law does not allow the prosecution of crimes committed more than 20 years ago. The train robber has consulted a British expert on extradition law, Alun Jones QC, and years of legal wrangling in the Brazilian courts could be in prospect.

Even if that fails, Biggs could cross to neighbouring Venezuela, which still has no extradition treaty with Britain, or go slightly further afield to Costa Rica, which has an equable climate, is unusually peaceful and democratic by central American standards and has harboured leading American fugitives, such as the financier Robert Vesco, in the past.

Contrary to its image as the destination of choice for those feeling misunderstood by the law, however, Latin America has few other places of refuge. There may be anarchy in Haiti and Colombia, but they have extradition treaties with Britain, though enforcing them is often difficult. The addition of Brazil brings the number of Britain's extradition partners to 107, including 30 countries which have signed the European Convention on Extradition. Russia is among another five in the process of ratification, which means there is almost nowhere to run to west of the Urals. We even have an extradition deal with San Marino.

Clare Montgomery QC, another specialist in the field, said the number of extraditions from other countries sought by Britain each year had risen from "low double figures" in the 1960s to about 150. The figures were roughly the same in the other direction. "The increase is due to the larger number of extradition treaties we have, as well as wider agreements such as the European Convention," she said. "There is also much more international crime."

Reciprocal arrangements with 47 Commonwealth countries eliminates much of the rest of the world as a hiding place, although there are significant omissions, such as Pakistan. The Home Office will not comment on countries which are not extradition partners, or where it is seeking to negotiate agreements, but a list of nations which have signed treaties with Britain shows that the fugitive has most choice in Africa. Liberia is the only non-Commonwealth country on the continent to have come to an agreement, leaving plenty of scope, from Morocco - probably the closest point of refuge to these islands - to Egypt and Namibia. South Africa was once a tempting bolthole, but jurisdictional difficulties with Britain have eased since the end of apartheid.

If you can't stand the heat, there are few places to go. Belarus and Ukraine have yet to reach extradition agreements with us, but the winters are as appalling as their economies, and they are unlikely to be willing to jeopardise their future European credentials.

Leaving out the central Asian republics and other similarly unappealing corners of the world, the most promising region for the involuntary expatriate is east Asia. Although Thailand is out, one can escape to China, Vietnam, South Korea and - perhaps most surprisingly - Japan.

The favourite, however, must be the Philippines. As the late Lord Moynihan knew when he went there to avoid his gambling debts, the pound goes a long way and English is widely spoken. He opened a chain of massage parlours and left behind a couple of half-Filipino sons who unsuccessfully tried to claim his title.

The countries to avoid are those which have agreed to carry out British arrest warrants, although these include Ireland, which has several times found technical flaws in warrants for IRA suspects. It is not enough, however, to flee somewhere which has no formal agreements with London: if the government is sufficiently autocratic and your presence sufficiently inconvenient, you may be deported without legal niceties.

This applies even to northern Cyprus, which Britain refuses to recognise as a country at all. It has attracted the likes of Asil Nadir, founder of the collapsed Polly Peck empire, and, it is believed, Kenneth Noye, a career criminal who helped to launder the proceeds of the Brinks-Mat robbery and is now sought for questioning in connection with last year's "road rage" killing of 21-year-old Stephen Cameron on an M25 slip-road.

"The northern Cypriot authorities do co-operate loosely with their British counterparts when it suits them," said Ms Montgomery. "People have been deported unofficially into the arms of the British police." If you have to leave in a hurry, it seems, better make for Manila or San Jose (capital of Costa Rica, as you may need to know).

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport