At the end of March, the Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court, having reviewed complaint filed by counsel defence of a person to be extradited against the decision of the Office of the Prosecutor General regarding admissibility of extradition to the Russian Federation, decided to ask preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union to specify opinion on applicability of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Observing the fact that a person to be extradited is a citizen of Estonia, in opinion of the Supreme Court, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union must be applied in a way that if a citizen of the Member State of the European Union is extradited to the state, which is not the Member State of the European Union, the citizen of the Member State of the European Union must be guaranteed level of protection equal to what citizen of respective Member State would be guaranteed. The Supreme Court stayed proceedings in the case until ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union comes into force.
In the decision on addressing the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Supreme Court analysed applicable legal norms, which make doubt about interpretation of legal norms of the European Union. In accordance with Article 62 of the Treaty between the Republic of Latvia and the Russian Federation on judicial assistance and judicial relations in civil, commercial and criminal cases, the Republic of Latvia does not extradite its citizens to the Russian Federation. At present, direct restriction on non-extradition of citizens of Estonia to the Russian Federation is not envisaged in Latvia or in agreement on international cooperation. Particular agreements on extradition are signed at the level of the European Union, but such agreement was not signed with the Russian Federation. Among Member States of the European Union, observing fundamental provisions included in the Decision of the Council of 13 June 2002 on the European Arrest Warrant and surrender procedures, Member States of the European Union are allowed to extradite their citizens. Enlisted considerations make conclude that protection implemented by the state against extradition of its citizens to states, which are not Member States of the European Union, operates only in the territory of respective state. It, in turn, contradicts to fundamental meaning of citizenship of the European Union, namely, rights of citizens to equal protection.
The Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Latvia received the request of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation regarding extradition of the citizen of Estonia to the Russian Federation for criminal prosecution last October. He is charged with attempt performed in group to illegal sale of narcotic substances in large amount upon conspiracy.
When filing a complaint against decision of the prosecutor of the Department of International Cooperation of the Department of Analysis and Management of Activity of the Office of the Prosecutor General, the counsel defence of the accused person asked to recognise extradition as inadmissible. It is pointed out in the complaint that in according with the treaty on judicial assistance and judicial relations the rights of the citizen of Estonia in the Republic of Latvia are the same as of the citizen of the Republic of Latvia, and thus Latvia holds an obligation to protect a person from unreasoned extradition.
Information prepared by Baiba Kataja, the Press secretary of the Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia
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