Three Britons accused of jewellery heist in Japan could be extradited by UK government

Danielle Demetriou
The men are alleged to have stolen jewellery from a Harry Winston store in the upmarket Omotesando district in Tokyo - Anadolu

The UK authorities are considering extraditing to Japan three Britons who allegedly carried out a high-profile jewellery heist in Tokyo over four years ago, according to reports.

Japan and Britain are said to be in discussion over the handover of the three suspects, despite the absence of an extradition treaty between the two nations, Kyodo News agency reported.

If the men are sent back to Tokyo, it will mark the first time for Japanese police to receive suspects from a country with which it has not signed an extradition treaty.

It will also mark a victory for Japan’s judicial system, which has been in the global spotlight in recent weeks following the dramatic escape of former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn from Tokyo to Lebanon.

Japanese authorities are currently seeking the handover of Ghosn, who fled while awaiting trial for financial misconduct, although Lebanon is another country with which Japan has no extradition agreement.

It was in November 2015 that Britons Daniel Lee Kelly, 41, Joe Anthony Chappell, 33, and an unnamed then 19-year-old man allegedly stole 46 pieces of jewellery valued at 106 million yen (£739,000)  from a Harry Winston store in the upmarket Omotesando district.

A security guard was reportedly beaten up and store showcases destroyed during the heist, with the three suspects allegedly fleeing Japan two days later, according to the police.

The suspects, who are thought to be members of an international crime group, were placed on an international wanted list through Interpol in October 2017 after Tokyo police obtained arrest warrants.

Tokyo police have reportedly sent investigation evidence to the British authorities, with extradition negotiations taking place, according to sources quoted by Kyodo News.

British authorities have reportedly shown understanding for the Japanese extradition request, based on the premise that offenders should be tried in the regions where crimes were committed.

The three men are not thought to be detained in police custody, although sources added that the British authorities may have information about their location.