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Darkanzali case: a test for the EU arrest warrant

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Darkanzali case: a test for the EU arrest warrant

Darkanzali case: a test for the EU arrest warrant
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Freedom, security and justice are three pillars of the European Union, as laid out by the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997. But the free movement of people, goods and capital has a downside: criminals can slip across borders too. The European arrest warrant aims to tackle this problem at an international level. As with other areas, the EU does not advocate harmonising arrest laws so as to avoid encroaching on a sensitive issue of national interest. Brussels thus accepts differences between member states and bases its policy on the mutual trust and common interests of EU countries in the judicial sphere. The European arrest warrant does away with the traditional extradition procedure, which requires that a suspect’s alleged offence be considered a crime both in the country that wants to extradite him and in the state which is to deport him. In the EU, the suspect can be extradited even if he cannot be charged in the country where he is staying.

This system is very fast in dealing with 32 of the most serious offences such as murder, paedophilia, terrorism, drugs and arms smuggling, human trafficking, and mafia-related activities. It was on terrorism charges that Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon issued a warrant for Mamoun Darkanzali. Claude Moniquet is the director of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre. “In the current climate, after the attacks on July the seventh, we might be able to catch alleged terrorists faster, without compromising the rule of law,” he says. “Whether Mr Darkanzali is put on trial in Germany or Spain, the fact is he will be tried in a democratic country which can guarantee him a proper defence.” The European arrest warrant was introduced as a result of the Laeken summit in December 2001, despite misgivings by some member states. It has allowed a fair number of extraditions to go through, but some extradition attempts have failed.