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Dutch court suspends extraditions to Poland over judicial independence concerns

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Protesters hold up a European and a Polish flag as they gather in front of Poland's Supreme Court  in Warsaw, Poland, July 4, 2018 to support the court's president.
Protesters hold up a European and a Polish flag as they gather in front of Poland's Supreme Court in Warsaw, Poland, July 4, 2018 to support the court's president.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski   -   Czarek Sokolowski
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A court in the Netherlands announced on Thursday that it would no longer carry out extraditions to Poland over concerns over judicial independence.

The International Legal Assistance Chamber (IRK) of the district court of Amsterdam said in a statement that it has once again reached out to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) over the matter.

It first called on the EU's top court to rule whether extraditions to Poland should be suspended on July 31 after Polish authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant against a man suspected of importing drugs from the Netherlands into the country.

At the time, the Dutch court said that "since 2017, the independence of Polish courts and, as a result, the right to a fair trial has come under increasing pressure."

"Among other things, there is political interference in the appointments and transfers of (vice) presidents to judicial authorities and judges. At the end of 2019, new legislation was also added regarding disciplinary measures against judges.

"All these developments together affect the independence of Polish courts so seriously that, according to the IRK, they can no longer be independent of the Polish government and the Polish parliament," it added.

The IRK said in its latest statement that it has sent additional questions to the CJEU to "be sure whether the lack of sufficient guarantees for the independence of Polish judges also has consequences" for the European Arrest Warrant system.

It added that until its questions are cleared up "it is clear that no more people will be handed over to Poland for the time being."

Euronews has contacted Poland's Justice Ministry for comment.

The EU has triggered Article 7 procedures — dubbed the "nuclear option" — against Poland for reforms the country undertook, which the bloc says undermine judicial independence.

Brussels has also launched legal actions against Polish laws that allow ordinary court judges to be disciplined on the basis of their judicial decisions and lower the retirement age of Supreme Court judges.