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The most grotesque manifestation of the EAW to date
Date 20/03/2012 15:41  Author webmaster  Hits 2422  Language Global


The arrest of Graham Mitchell is the most grotesque manifestation of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to date.

In 1994 he was acquitted by a Portuguese Court - after a high-profile trial which was recorded by the Panorama programme - of assaulting a German tourist, Andre Jorling, who had been left paralysed from the waist down after falling off a 12-foot sea wall.

Nearly twenty years later, Mr. Mitchell has been arrested on a European Arrest Warrant which apparently charges him with first degree murder, notwithstanding that Mr. Jorling is still alive. Other paperwork suggests that the charge may in fact be one of attempted murder.

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage said:

"The Kafkaesque world of the EAW was forced into British law at the European Parliament by Sir Graham Watson, a Liberal Democrat MEP, at a time when the Lib Dems had no mandate - whether at Westminster or anywhere else - from the British People to be making laws.

"For Sir Graham and his chums, however, the EAW is a badge of Europhiliac pride that demonstrates both their devotion to the cause of European federalism and their utter contempt for the injustice it causes and the victims of that injustice."

On any view, this is a bizarre case. Mr. Mitchell has been acquitted of assaulting Mr. Jorling: assault is, of course, a necessary component of the offence of attempted murder. Yet no explanation is forthcoming as to how the Portuguese police propose to remedy that problem.

Assault is not an offence in respect of which Mr. Mitchell could be retried under Section 75 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (the Act which allows for the suspension of the double jeopardy rule in some serious cases).  The Portuguese Prosecutor has not given any explanation as to how this is justified in Mr. Mitchell's case.

But with the EAW system the prosecutor in Portugal does not have to supply answers to these problems.

All he has to do is to raise a charge against someone, fill in the paperwork correctly and the UK Courts will be bound to make an order transferring him to the country requesting him. There is no question of having to present credible prima facie evidence: all the Judge must do is to tick all the boxes in the Extradition Act 2003. Once the boxes are ticked, Mr. Mitchell will be on his way.

The chances are, then, that Mr. Mitchell will sooner rather than later be whisked off to face yet another travesty of justice of the kind that has become endemic under the European Arrest Warrant system.

On any view this is a clear demonstration that the European Arrest Warrant and the Extradition Act 2003 are so deeply flawed and mired in injustice that they ought to be repealed as soon as possible.