Kafka and the European Arrest Warrant

There\’s something of a problem with this EAW you see:

In another case, Andrew Symeou was extradited to Greece in July 2009 to face charges in connection with the death of a young man on a Greek island.

He spent a year in custody before being granted bail but could not leave Greece. He was finally cleared by a Greek court in June this year.

You can get picked up and dumped in the prison of any other EU country on the basis of no evidence at all. Simply the issuance of a warrant is all that is required.

However, once you\’re there, you\’re a foreigner with no connections to the country, a flight risk, and thus you don\’t get bail and you cannot return home while the case is processed. You know, get on with life, go to uni, whatever, while the mills of Balkan justice grind slowly.

But if you can be picked up anywhere in the EU and dumped into any prison on the basis of no evidence then you\’re not in fact a flight risk, are you? If every police force in the continent can be forced to look for you, pick you up and deliver you to the court, then you are no more out of their reach pottering around Enfield productively waiting for trial than you are stuck in either a Greek prison or confined to Greece.

Indeed, the very fact that you have been picked up and delivered on an EAW shows that you absolutely are not out of the court\’s jurisdiction while awaiting trial in your home country.

So not only have they got the most basic thing wrong: the EAW shouldn\’t exist, no, we should not be bundling up Britons to face the courts of other countries without seeing the evidence against them, but the very fact that the EAW exists should mean instant bail and return to home while the case drags on.

And as the EU hasn\’t the wit to organise this then fuck \’em.

Can we leave yet?

10 thoughts on “Kafka and the European Arrest Warrant”

  1. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/18/sophie-touscan-du-plantier-murder-case

    A French woman was murdered in Ireland. The Irish authorities have decided there is insufficient evidence to bring a case to court. but the French can have a go in France.

    This is worse that the Greek case above as if allowed to stand it means the end of national sovereignty in the EU. That follows logically from the details of this case – nothing happened on French soil, as all agree – and the meaning of sovereignty.
    It also puts an end to the rule of law in Ireland as we understand the term. We would be subject to laws that we have no say in and could never amend

  2. “This is worse that the Greek case above as if allowed to stand it means the end of national sovereignty in the EU. “

    Working as intended…

  3. I wonder how much of this is compounded by the UK’s non-Schengen membership. We certainly don’t seem to hear so many EAW horror stories in the Schengen zone.

    Now, If you’re bailed in Greece as a non-Greek, what are the actual conditions attached to it? Well, it could be a condition that you do not leave Greece, but that would be impossible to police in practice since there is no one to stop you going to anywhere else in Schengen. But there are people who will stop you leaving Schengen, if your passport is on the list of people who aren’t allowed to leave Schengen because the courts want to speak to them. Which you have to do if you want to go back to the UK while your case is being processed.

    So I wonder if the actual bail condition is you don’t leave the Schengen zone, which because of the UK’s barmy opt-out works out being a ban on returning home for people bailed with such conditions in Schengen countries.

  4. James,

    An interesting point about the Schengen area, but if that is the case then more EU idiocy.

    The UK is surrounded by water which makes our borders tighter than the porous Schengen area with its 100’s of Km of hard to police land borders. Look at how difficult it was for East Germany to keep the borders closed.

    All the Greeks and other countries need to do is ship the person back to the UK and ask the UK authorities to confiscate the alleged offender’s passport, as is done in some cases of bail here.

  5. “subject to laws that we have no say in and could never amend” … you do have a say in EU laws, though indeed not in French laws.

    I am interested to know why the French fancy prosecuting when the Irish govt has given up.

  6. @SimonF, the repatriation and passport confiscation would be a good solution, and as Tim points out, anyone in the EU who was refusing to face the music could simply have another warrant issued.

    Sure, you could slip out of the Schengen zone across a poorly-policed land border, but where to? Russia? Not somewhere I’d like to be arrested for illegal immigration – and they’ll only send you back anyway.

    Regarding people coming in, the most porous bit of Schengen is actually the med rather than the land borders (the only notable exception is the Greek/Turkish border). That would be the case Schengen or not, and the determined, who have already crossed several countries illegally on their way can move freely around Europe anyway – throwing up new checkpoints on motorways and at rail stations would be rather pointless.

    East Germany effectively closed its border in 1952 and after the Berlin wall went up, did a pretty good job of stopping people leaving thereafter. Alongside the policing and physical measures a huge strip along the border with the west was depopulated and declared out of bounds, unless you had a special permit to be there. A lot of the defectors post border closure left when on officially permitted trips to the west. It only fell apart when Hungary (which East Germans could travel to freely) opened its border with Austria, giving the Ossis a way around the wall.

  7. I don’t think you’ll ever get the Greeks to agree to bail if the suspect is allowed to go to the UK. We have the same issue here in the USA, where someone on bail is not allowed to leave the state (or maybe even the county). they simply don’t trust the police in another part of the country. The EU is obviously not as tightly ruled as states in the USA, so I can’t imagine any country’s police force accepting a suspect going to another EU nation.

  8. There are 3 countries in Schengen which are not in the EU (Switzerland, Iceland and Norway).
    Presumably someone on bail could abscond to one these?

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