Concerns have been raised about whether a Czech-born Australian man held in a Perth prison for a year will get a fair trial if he is returned to his home country to face historic fraud allegations.

Perth man Richard Hala has been held at Hakea Prison since February last year after Czech Republic authorities issued a warrant for his arrest and started extradition proceedings.

Mr Hala, who became an Australian citizen in 1988, was deemed eligible for extradition in September.

But five months on, the Federal Attorney-General's office confirmed yesterday no decision had been made about whether he should be handed over to the Czech Republic.

"The length of time it takes for the minister to make his determination depends on a number of factors such as the timing and complexity of representations received by Mr Hala," a spokeswoman said yesterday.

It is understood the allegations against Mr Hala, which date back almost 18 years, relate to a money-lending scheme.

Mr Hala's lawyer Alisdair Putt, who is representing him pro bono, said there were concerns about whether his client would receive a fair trial in the Czech Republic given how much time had passed since the alleged offences were said to have occurred. "Mr Hala remains hopeful that the Federal minister will decide not to surrender him," Mr Putt said yesterday.

A letter written by Mr Hala and obtained by _The West Australian _reveals he fears his life is in danger if he is surrendered to Czech authorities.

In the letter, Mr Hala claims his life was threatened in 1995 while he was in the Czech Republic caring for his sick mother.

He returned to Australia shortly afterwards, fearing he could be killed. "I was back in Australia, totally broke and running for my life from Czech criminals," he wrote.

It is not known when a decision on his extradition will be made.

The West Australian

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