23 October, 2018
At the court hearing of October 16, the Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court, proceeding with the examination of the complaint filed by an advocate of an extraditable person against the decision of the Prosecutor General's Office regarding the admissibility of the extradition of a citizen of the Republic of Estonia to the Russian Federation, decided to refer the matter to the Prosecutor General's Office for further examination. The Supreme Court has previously referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling in the present case in order to clarify an opinion on the applicability of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
On October 22, the Supreme Court prepared a reasoned decision stating that, in accordance with Section 696, Paragraph one of the Criminal Procedure Law, person who is located in the territory of Latvia may be extradited for criminal prosecution. To date, the location of the extraditable person has not been identified. A notification sent to his place of residence in Estonia with an invitation to appear at the hearing is left unfulfilled. The court does not possess reliable information about the location of a person in the territory of Latvia, Estonia or any other country.
Taking into account the findings expressed in the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union, in the present case in which an Estonian citizen who is subject to the request for extradition to the Russian Federation and who was arrested in the territory of a Member State of the EU other than that of which that person is a national, namely in Latvia, for the purpose of executing this request the Articles 18 and 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union must be interpreted as not precluding the requesting Member State from distinguishing between its own nationals and nationals of other Member States on the basis of its constitutional law and authorizing the extradition of the latter nationals even though it does not allow the extradition of its own nationals if it has previously addressed the competent authorities of that Member State, the national of which is a person concerned, has made it possible to request him on the basis of a European Arrest Warrant and that Member State has not taken any measures in this respect.
The Court of Justice of the European Union in the present case held that, in this case, the exchange of information with the Member State the national of which is to be extradited has to be provided, in order to give the authorities of that Member State, in so far as they are competent under national law to prosecute that person for offenses committed outside its territory, the possibility to issue the European Arrest Warrant for prosecution. Consequently, in such a case, the possibility shall not be excluded for a Member State, of which the alleged offender is a national, to issue the European Arrest Warrant for the handing over that person for criminal prosecution.
The circumstances of the case are as follow:
The Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Latvia has received a request from the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation for the extradition of a citizen of the Republic of Estonia for prosecution. A person is accused of attempting to unlawfully sell drugs of a particularly large amount in a group after prior agreement.
When lodging a complaint regarding the decision of the prosecutor of the International Cooperation Division of the Department of Analysis and Management of the Prosecutor General's Office on the admissibility of extradition, the advocate of the accused person requests that extradition be declared inadmissible. The complaint states that, in accordance with the Agreement on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations, a citizen of the Republic of Estonia in the Republic of Latvia has the same rights as a citizen of the Republic of Latvia and thus the State of Latvia has a duty to protect a person from unjustified extradition.
Baiba Kataja, the Press Secretary of the Supreme Court
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