British prisoner in court

After 11 months on remand following his arrest on a golf course in Quinta do Lago, and one adjournment, Glaswegian prisoner Matthew Edwards’ case finally reached Faro Court recently. And in a further development, it was revealed that Edwards also faces an extradition order to face criminal charges in Scotland.

On February 25, Edwards, who is accused by the Portuguese authorities of receiving a stolen car and using a false identity, was in Faro Court for what his defence lawyer hoped would be the final time. This time three witnesses took the stand, while the accused waited for his sentence surrounded by special armed police, usually only bought in for high profile cases. The first witness, a builder hired by Edwards to work on his home, confirmed he had seen the accused driving the stolen Jaguar. He also told the court that he had seen piles of cash lying around Edwards’ Vilamoura house, although he could not confirm the currency of the money.

The second witness, a golfing partner and old friend of the accused, was bought forward as a character witness. He claimed that he had no knowledge that the Jaguar in question was stolen. He went on to say that he knew of the car but had never discussed any details concerning its purchase with Edwards. The third witness spoke briefly about Edwards’ character, but was dismissed by the judges after only a couple of minutes of questioning.

Edwards himself did not speak and looked nervous throughout the hearing. His nerves may have been exacerbated by the fact that when a translation is required for a court hearing, the translator only explains the proceedings in English when the accused is being directly addressed. As neither the judges nor the prosecuting lawyer questioned Edwards, his understanding of what was happening around him appeared to be minimal.

Finally, the three judges adjourned the case for another month – a move contested by Elisabeth Ramão, Edwards’ defence lawyer. She told the court that bearing in mind the nature of Edwards’ crimes, the special armed police escort was unnecessary, that Edwards had more than served his time and that the judges should be able to come to a decision that day. However, her appeal was not upheld and Matthew Edwards will have to return to court on March 25.

A further development in the case, however, suggests that Edwards may be a higher profile criminal than suspected as he is currently facing an extradition order from Scotland for crimes allegedly committed there. He is due in court in Évora soon to hear whether he will be extradited back to Scotland, or if he will remain in prison here in Portugal.