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Letter to the Guardian - European Arrest Warrants

September 1, 2009 2:24 PM

Dear Sir, The apparently lenient treatment in his home country of Daniel Ubani, the German doctor who killed a British patient with a fatal injection when tired (Guardian August 24th) contrasts with the treatment of 2 of my London constituents, Deborah Dark and Andrew Symeou, both of whom are subject to action under a European Arrest Warrant and being supported in their fight for justice by the admirable Fair Trials International.

Dr Ubani fled home to Germany when the British police began to investigate. Given the fact that the offence was committed in the UK, that the evidence is presumably here and that the victim's family is also in the UK, there were very strong grounds to indicate extradition for a trial in the UK. But by the time the Crown Prosecution Service got round to issuing a European Arrest Warrant, legal proceedings in Germany had begun which trumped the EAW. These proceedings led to a mere €5000 fine and a 9-month suspended prison sentence, allowing Dr Ubani to continue to practise there with no threat of being struck off the German medical register. Was it incompetence, bad faith or poor cooperation which allowed Dr Ubani to evade a UK court?

Meanwhile Deborah Dark is being pursued by France under a European Arrest Warrant to serve a prison sentence following a conviction 20 years ago. Neither Deborah nor her lawyer knew anything about the court hearing that led to the conviction in her absence. Although courts in the UK and Spain have now agreed that it would be unjust to return Deborah to France, her extradition is still being sought by the French authorities.

Andrew Symeou is being prosecuted in connection with the tragic death of a British teenager in a nightclub in Greece in 2007. He has so far been denied bail following his extradition to Greece under a European Arrest Warrant last month and as a result could have to spend months in prison awaiting trial. But the case against him is built on mistaken identity, conflicting evidence and a flawed police investigation involving violent intimidation of witnesses. Despite all this, the British courts have said they could not prevent Andrew's extradition.

I am in favour of EU criminal law cooperation and in principle support the European Arrest Warrant, as does my party the Liberal Democrats. Tory-style prejudice against it is a charter for criminals to thumb their noses at the law. But there needs to be both reform to prevent human rights abuses and consistency in EU-wide application. It is unacceptable that Dr Ubani can avoid UK justice just by returning to his home state when others are caught up unjustly in a European Arrest Warrant net.

Yours Sincerely,

Sarah Ludford MEP