Al-Qa'eda suspect freed as Germany rules EU extradition warrant illegal

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by -Cp, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. -Cp

    -Cp Senior Member

    Sep 23, 2004
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    Europe's war against terrorism suffered a setback yesterday when Germany's highest court refused to allow the extradition to Spain of an al-Qa'eda suspect, ruling that the EU's new arrest warrant is invalid under German law.

    The constitutional court said that Mamoun Darkazanli, a German citizen whose company is alleged to have been a front for the terrorist group's activities, could not be extradited as the warrant violated the constitution and therefore his basic rights.

    Spain issued a warrant for his arrest last September and, as he was preparing to fly from Hamburg airport in the company of police officers two months later, the constitutional court halted the extradition process. He then spent 10 months in custody until his release yesterday.

    Darkazanli, 46, a Syrian-German who lives in Hamburg, has been on a United States list of terror suspects since 2001.

    He was a friend of the September 11 suicide pilots and appeared in a wedding video with two of them - Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah - two years before the Twin Towers attacks. Shehhi and Jarrah lived and studied in Hamburg with the ringleader of the attacks, Mohammed Atta.

    Shortly after the attacks a business card belonging to Wadih El-Hage, the personal secretary to Osama bin Laden, was found in Darkazanli's possession.

    He has denied any involvement with bin Laden or the attacks. Darkazanli was arrested by German police directly after the attacks, but released due to lack of evidence.

    Membership of a terrorist organisation has been illegal in Germany only since 2002 and cannot be retrospectively prosecuted. If convicted by the Spanish courts of belonging to a terrorist organisation he would face 12 years in prison.

    Darkazanli was among 35 people to be charged with membership of al-Qa'eda in September 2003 by Spanish Judge Baltasar Grazon, who accused him of being a key al-Qa'eda figure in Germany, Spain and Britain since 1997.

    According to the charge sheet, Darkazanli carried out "logistics support and financing activity" for the network, including the purchase of a ship that he bought with two other men in December 1993.

    The European arrest warrant, which was intended to allow the prompt cross-border handover of terrorist suspects, came into force in Germany last August. But as yet there is no German national law to validate its implementation.

    Brigitte Zypries, Germany's justice minister, called yesterday's decision a "setback".

    "He must be set free following this verdict, which is a blow for the government in its efforts and fight against terrorism," she said.

    She pledged to present a new law to the government "within four to six weeks" to allow the arrest warrant to be recognised under German law, so that the case against a man "considered to be a key al-Qa'eda figure" could proceed. But the process is likely to be held up due to elections expected this autumn.

    The arrest warrant, a key plank in the EU's anti--terrorist initiatives, could now be under threat following Germany's decision, particularly in the context of recent discussions about the EU's constitution and budget.

    Darkazanli's wife, Brigitte, expressed her delight over her husband's release, saying: "He didn't have anything to do with any part of the whole story."

    A spokesman for the European Commission urged Germany to change its law as soon as possible.
  2. Annie

    Annie Diamond Member

    Nov 22, 2003
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    Just another example of the failure of the EU attempt to 'one government.' Obviously even the countries that would benefit the most are not willing to give up 'autonomy' for the 'greater good.' They only expect the US to do so.

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