4 september 2008

Pieter Cleppe aan het woord in "The Daily Mail"

Britons tried abroad in their absence will be deported from the UK to serve their sentence under planned European laws. Refinements to the controversial European Arrest Warrant system mean a British citizen can be arrested here and sent to prison elsewhere - even if he did not know he had been charged. The rules will apply to crimes ranging from murder and rape to others such as 'xenophobia' which is unrecognised in British law.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has given British backing to the extradition laws on the grounds that they will improve 'mutual trust' among the 27 EU countries. They were given a vote of confidence at the European Parliament yesterday in advance of final approval by national governments later this year. But Tories said they would undermine the right of the accused to defend himself in a trial, and lawyers warned of the risk of serious miscarriages of justice.

Dominic Grieve, Conservative home affairs spokesman, said the plan was alarming. 'Allowing British nationals to be extradited to face prison in European jails, based on trials in absentia, is simply not compatible with the principles of British justice.' The European Arrest Warrant system came into operation four years ago, with British backing, despite fears from opposition MPs and lawyers over its implications. It allows EU countries to demand the extradition of suspects from other EU states without any formal extradition proceedings or court hearings.

At the moment, states including Britain have the right to refuse to hand over a suspect, if he has been convicted in his absence. But the latest 'trial in absentia' initiative will insist he is handed over. The state making the request must only demonstrate that the suspect was informed of the trial - a legal condition that does not mean he is told in person.

The rules are likely to be used by countries such as Greece, which has been involved in contested prosecutions of Britons, and Eastern European states where justice systems are widely considered corrupt. Britain has held trials in absentia since 2001, but they are unusual and allowed only under controlled legal conditions.

The Justice Ministry said: 'The initiative will ensure that there is clarity as to when the courts of one member state recognise a decision taken by another member state in a person's absence. 'This will help ensure that a person cannot escape justice by fleeing to another member state, whilst also ensuring that persons are only returned where to do so is appropriate - for example where there will be a retrial.'

But Pieter Cleppe, a lawyer at the Open Europe think tank, said: 'This proposal could open the door to serious miscarriages of justice and ministers should not be supporting it.'

(c) The Daily Mail
Article by Steve Doughty


At 4/9/08 18:37, Anonymous Anoniem said...


PC werd trouwens ook op BBC-website vermeld.


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