The Supreme Court’s Decision on the European Arrest Warrant (EAW)
In 2021, the VIa Section of the Supreme Court of Cassation issued a crucial judgment concerning the principle of double jeopardy in the context of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) provided for by Legislative Decree No. 69 of 2005.
The Principle of Double Jeopardy
The principle of double jeopardy requires that an individual can be extradited only if the act they are accused of constitutes a crime in both the requesting state for the EAW and the state where the individual is located. In other words, the same action must be considered a crime in both states.
The Case Before the Supreme Court
In the case examined by the Supreme Court, a person was arrested and subject to an EAW for crimes related to smuggling. However, the specific crime they were accused of was not considered a crime under Italian law.
The Petitions of the Petitioner
The petitioner raised two objections. The first was based on the violation of Article 7 of Legislative Decree No. 69 of 2005, arguing that the requirement of double jeopardy was not met. The Court of Appeal had identified a correspondence between the foreign crime and Italian rules related to smuggling. However, these Italian rules no longer prescribed a custodial sentence but only fines.
The Supreme Court’s Decision
The Supreme Court upheld the first objection. It ruled that the actions that had led to the EAW were no longer a crime under Italian law due to a legislative change that had decriminalized the smuggling of certain goods. Therefore, the requirement of double jeopardy was not met, rendering the extradition illegitimate.
Implications of the Decision
This decision underscores the importance of the principle of double jeopardy in the context of the EAW. It indicates that it is not sufficient for an action to be considered a crime in both states; it must also entail a similar punishment. Furthermore, it clarifies that legislative changes can influence the validity of an EAW.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s decision in this case highlighted the significance of double jeopardy in the context of the EAW and led to the annulment of the extradition order, ensuring the release of the individual involved unless there were other grounds for detention.