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Germany and the European Arrest Warrant

Posted by Helen Monday, July 18, 2005

The news that the German Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the European Arrest Warrant was invalid when it came to German subjects will be received with mixed feelings by most people.

On the one hand, as this blog has always argued and continues to argue, legislation at all levels should be carried out by the organs of individual states and the attempt to use the war against terror to further European integration should be resisted. After all, as we have said over and over again, only about four of the 32 items on the European Arrest Warrant and on the forthcoming European Evidence Warrant have anything to do with terrorism. The others are matters criminal and, sometimes, not even that as the ill-defined “xenophobia”.

Therefore, if the German constitution says that no German citizen should be extradited to another country, no matter what he (or she) is wanted for, then it is up to the people and government of Germany to make a decision about that.

We suspect that the Commission urging the German government to bring its legislation in line with European will have little effect on the German lawyers, who are getting understandably angry about the disregard for the German constitution that the government has shown in blithely signing all sorts of documents and agreements.

As the case concerns Mamoun Darkazanli, a half-Syrian, half-German businessman, whose Import-Export Company is suspected of being a front for a money-laundering operation to provide funds for terrorists, it is inevitable that regrets at the decision are voiced.

The funds of the Company were frozen by the United States after 9/11 together with many others who are seen as funders of terrorism or “pure criminality” as Hizonner, Ken the Mayor of LondON, friend of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi would put it.

The indictment against Mr Darkazanli, apparently a close acquaintance if not a friend of several of the 9/11 bombers, was issued in Spain by Judge Baltasar Garzon, who is notorious for his scatter-shot indictments.

His list of 41 is headed by Osama bin Laden. A nice gesture but seems a tad impractical. Who is actually going to serve the documents on the man, assuming he is still in the land of the living?

At present, all European countries seem to be blaming each other for the lack of progress in the war against terror. High on the blame list is the UK, which has become the home for some of the leading international terror masters and theoreticians of terror. (Actually, mostly what those theoreticians say is go out and kill as many Jews/Hindus/Infidels/Muslims-who-do-not-agree-with-you as you can. If it means killing yourself in the process, so much the better. As theories go, I have heard more complicated ones.)

There have been numerous complaints from other European countries that the UK has refused to extradite various suspects, including one the French wanted in connection with the bombing of the Paris metro.

French officials, on the other hand, have been indulging in their favourite pastime of undermining all and sundry. In the wake of the July 7 bombings Scotland Yard brought together anti-terrorist officers from a couple of dozen European countries and the United States for a conference.

All seemed to go well until July 11 when a far-ranging interview was published in Le Monde with Christophe Chaboud, France’s new anti-terrorism co-ordinator, in which he leaked a good deal of information about the meeting, as well as expressing his own highly politicized opinion that Britain was attacked because of her involvement in Iraq. This, rather conveniently, overlooked the attacks in France and French complaints that the British were not handing over terrorist suspects.

The British security services sent a note to the other countries’ organizations, bitterly suggesting that the French were putting out “bad information” on purpose. So, you might argue, it is business as usual in the Entente Cordiale.

But Germany is not doing too well in the blame game, either. Too many suspects have been arrested and released on various fiddly technicalities that the men in question are taught to exploit.

All this provides the EU with that famous beneficial crisis. We are the only ones, who can deal with the problem, they say. We need to introduce more integrated legislation and set up pan-European agencies and organizations. That will solve the problem.

Well, no, that will solve nothing at all, except the perennial problem of how to get the pesky courts in different member states to insist that their law applies and never mind what European law is.

This description does not apply to British courts, by and large, though we, too, have been slow at extraditing people who are wanted on charges of terrorism or aiding and abetting terrorism.

What it boils down to, probably, is our old friend, lack of political will. For reasons that are deep in the European psyche and has to do, possibly, with resentment of the United States and dislike of Israel or, possibly, some other serious disorientation, the fight against terror, despite the clear evidence that the other side means what it says, continues not to figure high on anybody’s agenda.

In the UK, despite our long and relatively successful fight against our own terrorists, we seem unable to cope with what is happening. If it is true that an unofficial agreement was made between the security services and the various disparate jihadist and Al-Qaeda groups, a story that is surfacing ever more insistently in various reports, then one has to wonder at the sanity of the people who authorized this.

Not only is it highly immoral and disloyal to our many allies to make an agreement to allow these people to stay here if they do not attack Britain, it is also rather stupid. Who on earth trusts men whose proclaimed aim is to kill the infidel?

If that particular story is untrue then there has to be another explanation for the presence of people Abu Qatada, Abdullah El Faisal, Hassan Butt and many, many others. And we still have not had an explanation for the surprising fact that a high-ranking international terrorist arrived at Felixstowe, left some time later from Heathrow with nobody apparently the wiser about what he did and whom he saw while he was here.

So where do we go from here? More integration, more European legislation? That is the inevitable answer that comes from our politicians and, understandably enough, the European Commission.

On the other hand, we could try another route. For example, the British security services might like to stop telling everybody that they are better than anyone in the world and start using all that energy to follow up the information they have been provided by agents, often at great risk to themselves.

The German legal authorities and police might like to start investigating some of the accusations about their own citizens (since it is entirely possible that German, like British, citizens are involved in terrorist organizations) and, maybe, arrest them, presenting one or two completely watertight cases in court.

And all European countries might like to review their attitude to extradition. We do not need a European Arrest Warrant to send people from Britain to gaols in Greece or wherever because they may have uttered some phrases that might be interpreted as being “xenophobic”. What we need is political will and determination. But then, if we had that, would we be in the mess we are in?