Germany says terror arrest illegal
MIM: If the Germans don't want to hand over one of their citizens, why don't they start proceedings to strip him of his citizenship instead of releasing him to continue his terrorist activity with the use of a German passport?
BERLIN, Germany -- Germany's high court has ordered the release of a Syrian-born German man whom Spain wanted extradited in connection with the 2003 Madrid bombings.
The Federal Constitutional Court ruled Monday it would be illegal to extradite Mamoun Darkazanli, a Hamburg-based businessman, because the country's constitution bars Germans from being extradited against their will.
"He must be set free following this verdict, which is a blow for the government in its efforts and fight against terrorism," German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries told The Associated Press.
The ruling effectively strikes down Germany's agreement to adopt last year's European Union accord on extradition.
Darkazanli, 46, was arrested in October on Spain's warrant. Investigators there have said he provided logistical and financial help in the Madrid bombings.
He was also allegedly seen in a 1999 wedding video with two of the September 11 suicide pilots -- Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah -- who lived and studied in Hamburg.
Germany's post-war constitution has frustrated anti-terror efforts in the past, with strict provisions against surveillance and extradition to prevent the abuses and atrocities of the country's Nazi era.
An EU spokesman said the arrest warrant would survive the German court ruling, AP reported.
Spokesman Martin Selmayr told AP the ruling did not declare the European arrest warrant unconstitutional, but merely the German national law that implements it.
"From a first reading, it's a judgment that declares null and void the German implementation law, not the European arrest warrant," Selmayr said in Brussels.
Darkazanli appeared on U.S. suspect lists after September 11, but has denied any links to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
German police questioned him shortly after the attacks on New York, but he was freed for lack of evidence and continued to live in Hamburg.
Darkazanli is among 41 suspects, including bin Laden, indicted by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, who has been investigating al Qaeda, AP said.
Top German court rules EU arrest warrant invalid
Mon Jul 18, 2005
By Diana Niedernhoefer
KARLSRUHE, Germany (Reuters) - Germany's top court blocked Berlin's extradition of a suspected al Qaeda financier to Spain, ruling on Monday that a key instrument in the European Union's campaign against terrorism was unconstitutional.
The Federal Constitutional Court ordered the release of Mamoun Darkazanli, a German-Syrian fighting his handover under an EU arrest warrant, a new instrument the court said Germany had not implemented correctly.
The ruling could wreck the warrant, one of the bloc's most significant security initiatives since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and introduced last year to speed up the handover of suspects and boost cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Darkazanli, a businessman with dual Syrian and German nationality, has been in custody in Hamburg since last October.
He has been accused by the United States of financing al Qaeda and was investigated by German authorities for links to the Hamburg cell that led the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. He has not been charged in Germany.
Darkazanli was one of 35 people charged by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon in September 2003 with belonging to al Qaeda.
Garzon's charge sheet says Darkazanli carried out "logistics support and financing activity" for the network, including the purchase of a cargo vessel that he and two others bought in December 1993 for its leader Osama bin Laden.
However, the dual national could not be extradited since German law prohibits the handover of its own citizens.
The court argued that the warrant infringed rules governing freedom from extradition and said Germany's implementation contravened basic rights.
Without a new German law incorporating the EU arrest warrant, Germans could not be handed over to other countries, the court said.
Terror suspect freed on European warrant glitch
18.07.2005 - 20:56 CET
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Germany's constitutional court has ordered the release of a man accused of financing al-Qaeda and due for extradition to Spain under the EU's arrest warrant scheme.
The judges did not challenge the warrant in principle, but rather its implementing legislation as adopted in Berlin.
The German-Syrian businessman, Mamoun Darkazanli, was arrested last October in Hamburg on suspicion of supporting terrorist activities through his German-registered company.
He featured on a video with two of the three Hamburg-based hijackers that carried out the 9/11 attacks. Washington had previously frozen his assets, which were considered to be a financial source for the international terrorist network.
The Spanish authorities investigating the Madrid bomb attacks also included Mr Darkazanli on a list of suspects and asked their German counterparts to extradite him on the basis of the EU's arrest warrent.
The warrant was adopted in 2002 and provides for cooperation between the bloc's law-enforcement authorities in criminal matters.
It beefed up previous extradition rules in member states, as it allows for the handing over of not only foreign suspects but also countries' own nationals, if prosecutors from other states demand it.
But Germany's highest court ruled that the country's implementing legislation on the EU warrant is flawed and cannot be used to extradite German citizens, which implies that Mr Darkazanli should be set free.
The decision could also see other German suspects facing extradition, or already in jail in other countries, being released.
Not protective enough
The court's main argument was that German legislation was not sufficiently protective of its own nationals, who could be required to be expelled for doing something which is lawful in their own country but not so in other EU member states.
For their part, Mr Darkazanli's lawyers argued that Germans can only be handed over and tried abroad when the crimes they are accused of are not subject to prosecution at home.
But the German authorities had investigated him for several months in connection with the US attacks and did not charge him.
Commenting on the ruling, a European Commission spokesman said the current state was "not very helpful", adding that the EU executive hoped the German authorities would hurry up and redress the deficiencies in their national laws so that the European arrest warrant "would work again in Germany".
A similar case is also being monitored in Poland, where a constitutional court ruled against the national legislation related to the warrant.
But Polish judges decided the current system could remain in place until the end of 2006, by which time a new law should be adopted.