Top EU Court Backs Arrest Warrants From 3 Countries

(CN) — Fine-tuning its requirements about the independence of issuing judicial authorities, the EU’s top court on Thursday backed European arrest warrants executed by public prosecutors in France, Sweden and Belgium.

None of the three opinions on the topic from the European Court of Justice are available in English, but the court in Luxembourg did release a statement on the cases.

Concluding that the French and Swedish systems satisfy EU requirements, the court emphasized that “national procedural rules allow for the proportionality of the decision of the public prosecutor’s office to issue a European arrest warrant to be judicially reviewed before, or practically at the same time as, that decision is adopted, but also subsequently.”

“In particular, such an assessment is also made in advance by the court adopting the national decision that may subsequently constitute the basis of the European arrest warrant,” the press release continues.

The Belgian authorities had issued the European arrest warrant not for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution, as happened in the French and Swedish cases, “but for the purposes of executing a custodial sentence imposed by a final judgment.”

Though the Belgian system did not provide for a separate appeal against the public prosecutor’s decision, the court found that the requirements of effective judicial protection made no such requirement.

“The executing judicial authority can presume that the decision to issue such an arrest warrant resulted from judicial proceedings in which the requested person had the benefit of safeguards in respect of the protection of his or her fundamental rights,” the court’s statement explains. “Furthermore, the proportionality of that arrest warrant also follows from the sentence imposed, since the framework decision on the European arrest warrant provides that that sentence must be a custodial sentence or a detention order made for a period of at least four months.”

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