European arrest warrant ruled unconstitutional in Germany

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The highest German court has annulled a law of July 2004 which implemented the EU arrest warrant in Germany. 

In the case, Mamoun Darkazanli, a Syrian-born German, suspected of being an Al Qaeda operative, had been held in custody for extradition to Spain under the warrant procedure (see EURACTIV 19 April 2005). On appeal, on 18 July 2005, the Constitutional Court held that the law applying the warrant did not respect fundamental rights and procedural guarantees and so was contrary to the German Constitution.

The result is that the EU arrest warrant no longer applies in Germany and the suspect has been released. It will take a new law from the German Parliament to reinstate the arrest warrant.

Reacting to the decision, the Commission stressed that it was the German implementing law that was found to be at fault and not the EU framework decision. The EU arrest warrant was set up by framework decision in 2002 and intended to simplify the procedure by which suspects can be extradited from one EU country to another. It has been hailed as one of the successes of EU anti-terrorism policy. 

A challenge to the Polish version of the arrest warrant has also been mounted as being contrary to the Polish Constitution. A court ruling has been postponed until November 2006.

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