Germany begin planning to extradite Carles Puigdemont

On Tuesday, German prosecutors reported that they were going to apply to extradite Puigdemont to Spain, but a German court has said they will not imprison him whilst the extradition process is being carried out.
Puigdemont initially travelled to Belgium, from Spain, after Catalonia failed to gain independence from the state of Spain, last October. In March, Puigdemont crossed the Belgian border, into Germany, where he was arrested on a warrant issued by the Spanish court.

In April, the Spanish authorities attempted to have Puigdemont extradited to face charges of rebellion, which they insisted was due to his role in the Catalan Independence campaign. The German courts refused to extradite him on charges of rebellion but did say that they would extradite Puigdemont if the charges were lessened to misuse of public funds.

This week, prosecutors have asked for Puigdemont to be remanded in custody and have provided new evidence of violence against the police, in the wake of the failed Catalan independence bid, which they argue amounts to rebellion.
The German Court is yet to announce when it will rule on the extradition itself

Extradition of Catalan Separatists from Brussels.

Yesterday, a court in Brussels ruled that the Catalan Separatists: Toni Comín, Meritxell Serret and Lluis Puig should not be extradited to Spain. The decision from the Belgian Court marks another obstacle on the Spanish authorities’ course to extradite those who were involved in the Catalan independence vote last year. Comín, Serret and Puig are facing charges of misuse of public funds and rebellion. The decision not to extradite the Catalan Regional counsellors is significant because the judgment included a decision that the European Arrest Warrants issued, rescinded then reissued by the Spanish authorities for the arrests of the three councillors were not valid because they were not supported by corresponding new, domestic, Spanish arrest warrants.

Extradition of James Acourt

James Acourt has accepted extradition from Spain to the UK pursuant to a European Arrest Warrant. The former suspect in the Stephen Lawrence murder case was arrested in Barcelona and will be extradited to the UK to face numerous high-level drugs charges.

Puigdemont & Ponsati face court hearings in battle against extradition to Spain

A German court has ruled that the requirements to detain exiled Catalan President Carles Puigdemont are met by the European Arrest Warrant for him issued by Spain. The Court has also denied him bail, after finding that he had a “strong incentive” to attempt travel to Belgium where he may have a better chance of fighting extradition. Mr Puigdemont was arrested in Germany on Friday, while attempting to travel between Finland and Belgium, and a final decision on his extradition must now be made within 90 days (see previous blog).

At the same time, former Catalan education secretary Carla Ponsati, who like Puigdemont left Spain in October last year, has agreed to turn herself in to police in Scotland where she had returned to a teaching post at St Andrews University. As with Mr Puigdemont, she is wanted by Spain on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds.

Puigdemont arrested in Germany as Spain issues arrest warrants for former ministers

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain for Belgium in October last year, has been arrested in Germany and is due to appear in court to decide whether he should remain in custody. He is wanted in Spain to face charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds.

On Friday, Spain also issued European Arrest Warrants for 5 former Catalan ministers. One of whom is Clara Ponsatí, who was Catalan minister of education under Puigdemont and is currently an economist at St Andrews University in Scotland. She also left Spain in October, and the university has said that it is “committed to protect and support her”.

Irish High Court halts Polish extradition request over rule of law fears and refers it to the ECJ

The Irish High Court has halted Poland’s request for the extradition of Artur Celmer, a Polish citizen wanted by Poland on charges of drug-trafficking, and referred the case to the ECJ for guidance.

In her ruling, Justice Aileen Donnelly said that the rule of law in Poland “has been systematically damaged” by cumulative legislative changes and that respect for the rule of law was essential “for mutual trust in the operation of the European Arrest Warrant”.

At the end of last year, the European Commission concluded that there was “a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland” after judicial reforms in Poland meant that, in its view, the country’s judiciary was “now under the political control of the ruling majority” (EU press release here). The ruling is a significant and, arguably, unprecedented indictment by a national court of the legal system in another State, which no doubt will be used to challenge Polish EAWs in many other jurisdictions.

 

Germany declines to extradite traders charged with Euribor rigging to the UK

Germany has declined an extradition request from the UK for four traders at Deutsche Bank AG who are charged in the UK with rigging the Euribor interest rate benchmark. The decision came after a German court ruled that the alleged crimes had taken place too far in the past to be tried.

However, the traders still face arrest warrants in other EU countries such as France and Italy, and the UK could also choose to pursue them through Interpol after it leaves the EU.

Sweden wanted to withdraw its extradition request for Julian Assange in 2013

It is reported that Sweden wanted to withdraw its extradition request for Julian Assange in 2013, but was dissuaded by the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service. Mr Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012.

Sweden’s Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny is said to have written to the CPS in 2013 stating that Sweden felt “obliged to lift the detention order…and to withdraw the European Arrest Warrant”, noting that “The time passing, the costs, and how service the crime is” had to be taken into account. She added that Swedish law required “coercive measures to be proportionate”.

Sweden did not ultimately withdraw its extradition request for Mr Assange until 2017.

Malarz v Regional Court of Opole, Poland – Appeal against extradition from UK dismissed

EAW – England and Wales – Poland – Appeal – Appeal dismissed – Abuse of process – Article 8 ECHR – Validity of EAW

Wojciech Malarz appealed against his extradition from the UK to Poland on a conviction EAW (“the third EAW”), where he is wanted to serve a sentence of 14 months’ imprisonment for assault. The Administrative Court dismissed his appeal, in Malarz v Regional Court of Opole, Poland [2018] EWHC 28 (Admin).

Two previous EAWs issued by Poland in respect of the assault and a separate conviction for unlawful assembly had already been discharged by the UK courts.

Abuse of process

The Court dismissed the appellant’s argument that the third EAW was an abuse of process, which he based on the fact that Poland had not stated the difference between the third and the unsuccessful first EAW concerning his assault conviction. The Court found that although it was unfortunate that no explanation was provided sooner, this was far from being cogent evidence that the judicial authority had sought to subvert or impugn the integrity of the Extradition Act 2003 or the EAW regime.

The Court also noted that an inconsistency in the third EAW stating two different limitation periods, although bordering on incompetent, did not change the fact that it was a warrant in proper form and substance on which the first instance judge was bound to act.

Article 8 ECHR

The Court acknowledged a failure by the CPS to properly oversee the appellant’s case, including with respect to the above inconsistency in stated limitation periods, leading to delays and a confounded expectation on the appellant’s part that he would not be extradited. However, although these factors weighed against the proportionality of extradition, it found that neither they nor the appellant’s developed family life in the UK outweighed the public interest in his extradition.

The Court noted that this was not the only possibly view under the Polish Judicial Authorities v Celinski test, but that the first instance judge was not wrong to take it.

Validity of the EAW

Although an earlier EAW in respect of the appellant’s assault conviction in Poland had been discharged by the UK courts, the Court found that the amended third EAW was substantively different and therefore valid. In support of this finding, it also noted that the appellant was well aware that Poland intended to press for his extradition under the third EAW.

France seeks extradition of businessman in illegal financing of Sarkozy campaign investigation

French businessman Alexandre Djourhi is currently on bail in the UK, where he was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant issued by France in December, and awaiting his extradition hearing on 17 April. Mr Djourhi is wanted by French police for questioning as part of an inquiry into the alleged illegal financing of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s first presidential bid in 2007.

French authorities have been investigating suggestions that Libya’s former President Muammar Gaddafi and his family helped to finance Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign, including through the purchase of a villa in south-east France for several times its market value. The property, said to have been owned by Djourhi, was bought for €10m by Libyan sovereign wealth fund the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio, and French authorities want to determine whether the money was ultimately transferred to Sarkozy’s campaign.