Extradition, a complex act of international cooperation, involves sovereign states in the transfer of individuals from one country to another for judicial purposes or the execution of criminal sentences. This mechanism requires that the offense in question is considered a crime under both the requesting country’s criminal law and that of the requested country.
The Case Before the Court of Justice
An emblematic case involves Italian citizen R.P., accused in the United States of anticompetitive practices in the marine pipe sector. Arrested during a layover in Germany, R.P. was extradited to the United States based on the EU-USA extradition agreement. Subsequently, he sought compensation from Germany, alleging that the country had violated European Union law and discriminated against a German citizen.
Extradition of European Union Citizens
The Court of Justice has ruled that a European Union member state is not obliged to grant EU citizens the extradition prohibition to the United States that its own citizens enjoy. However, the requested state must enable the state of origin to request extradition under a European Arrest Warrant before proceeding with extradition.
Discrimination and Freedom of Movement
European Union law prohibits discrimination based on citizenship and promotes the free movement of all citizens. Nevertheless, a citizenship-based distinction can be justified to prevent impunity for those who have committed crimes.
The Solution in the Specific Case
The Court held that Germany could extradite R.P. to the United States as it had informed Italian authorities in advance, and Italy had not issued a European Arrest Warrant for him.
The EU-USA Extradition Agreement
In 2003, the United States and the European Union signed the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance, which entered into force in Italy. This agreement complements the bilateral treaty between the United States and the Italian Republic on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters signed in 1982.
USA-Italy Treaty: What Triggers Extradition?
The USA-Italy treaty allows extradition only for offenses punishable by a custodial sentence of more than one year or a more severe penalty under the laws of both states. In the case of convicted individuals, extradition is granted only if the remaining sentence is at least six months.
The “Ne Bis in Idem” Principle
Article 6 of the treaty establishes the “Ne Bis in Idem” principle, preventing extradition if the person has been convicted, acquitted, or already served a sentence for the same facts for which extradition is requested.
Offenses Punishable by Death
When an offense can be punished by the death penalty in the United States but not in Italy, Italy can extradite the individual on the condition that the death penalty is not imposed or cannot be carried out due to procedural reasons. If the United States does not accept these conditions, the extradition request may be rejected.
Request for Provisional Arrest
Article 12 of the Treaty allows Contracting Parties to request the provisional arrest of an accused or convicted person for an offense that triggers extradition in cases of urgency.
The Importance of an Expert Extradition Attorney
Handling an extradition case requires expertise in international agreements and European Union regulations. Consulting an experienced attorney is crucial to ensure the protection of the rights of those facing extradition.