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Croatia / Supreme Court / I Kž 528/2019-16

I.N.

Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Supreme Court
Type:
Decision
Decision date:
20/04/2020
 
Key facts of the case:
On 20 May 2015, Interpol’s Bureau in Moscow issued an international wanted persons notice for I.N. for his arrest, on account of criminal proceedings for passive corruption. On 30 June 2019, I.N. was arrested in Croatia at the border control between Slovenia and Croatia, where he was seeking to enter the territory as a bus passenger in possession of an Icelandic travel document for refugees. The County Court in Zagreb received a note from the Embassy of Iceland confirming that, since 19 June 2019, I.N. has been a citizen of Iceland and has the status of a permanent resident in Iceland. The note also stated that the Icelandic Government requested that I.N. be guaranteed safe passage to Iceland with a minimum of delay. On 6 August 2019, the County Court in Zagreb received a request from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation for the extradition of I.N. to that third State, in accordance with the provisions of the European Convention on Extradition on account of criminal proceedings against him for several offences of passive corruption. On 5 September 2019, the County Court in Zagreb held that the legal conditions for the extradition of I.N. were met. I.N. appealed against that order to the Supreme Court of Republic of Croatia. He claimed that there is a concrete, serious and reasonably foreseeable risk that, if he were extradited to the Russian Federation, he would be subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. He also pointed out that his status as a refugee had been recognised in Iceland precisely on account of the actual criminal proceedings of which he had been the subject in Russia. The Supreme Court, as a court of second instance, noted that the court of first instance omitted to analyse in detail the fact that the foreign national was granted asylum in Iceland and subsequently acquired Icelandic citizenship. Following the extradited person's appeal, the Supreme Court annulled the first-instance decision and returned the case to the court of first instance for retrial.
 
Key legal question raised by the Court:
The key legal question raised by the Supreme Court was a preliminary ruling rendered by the Court of Justice of the EU (Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 2 April 2020). The Supreme Court questioned whether the EU law applies equally to EU citizens and Icelandic citizens, since Iceland is a part of Schengen acquis, participates in the common asylum system and is a signatory to the EFTA and EEA Agreements.
 
Outcome of the case:
The Supreme Court annulled the first-instance decision and remanded the case for retrial. It gave instructions for the retrial to the court of first instance to urgently inform Iceland and request a statement in relation to the extradition of its citizen to a country outside the EU territory - the Russian Federation. If Iceland is not interested in extradition of its citizen, the court of first instance will verify whether the extradition could undermine the rights from Article 19 of the Charter and re-examine the existence of legal requirements for extradition under the national law. After that, it will urgently adopt a new decision on the extradition of the person to the Russian Federation which shall be properly explained.