1st Dec 2023

French court throws out European arrest warrant

  • EU states have been urged to implement the arrest warrant by June (Photo: EUobserver)

The difficulties of implementing the European Arrest Warrant have been demonstrated in France where a court has refused to extradite to Spain three French Basque militants.

According to Le Monde, magistrates at the court of appeal in Pau, South-West France, decided not to apply the European Arrest Warrant in this case, because part of the criminal activity took place on French soil.

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The European Arrest Warrant gives Member States' judicial authorities certain leeway to refuse to apply the warrant if "the crime took place entirely or partly on the territory of the Member State executing the case".

The Pau court ruled that some of the criminal activity took place in Saint-Sébastien, in Spain, but also in Bayonne and Hendaye in France and so refused to apply the warrant.

The case demonstrates the difficulty in applying the European Arrest Warrant.

Although it was supposed to enter into force in all the "old" 15 EU states on 1 January this year, only eight had done it by that time.

Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Antonio Vitorino has described it as the "jewel in the crown" of European judicial legislation.

But the warrant, which has been heavily criticised by human rights campaigners for not guaranteeing the rights of suspects, has not been ratified in eight Member States (Germany, Greece, Italy, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and the Czech Republic).

Following the Madrid bomb attacks last March, EU states were urged to implement the EU warrant by "no later than June 2004".

The legislation is supposed to prevent criminals from being able to commit a crime in one member state and then seek shelter in another.

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