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Key facts of the case:

A Slovak court issued a European arrest warrant against the defendant in a pending criminal procedure. An unrelated criminal procedure was initiated against the defendant before the Hungarian authorities. In view of the European arrest warrant, the Hungarian Regional Court (first instance court) ordered the temporary extradition detention of the defendant. Eventually the Hungarian Regional Court concluded that the execution of the warrant would seriously violate the fundamental rights of the defendant, which is a ground for mandatory non-execution under Article 5 (1) f) of the Act no. CLXXX of 2012 on cooperation with the Member States of the European Union in criminal matters.[1] The Hungarian Regional Court based its conclusion on the defendant’s allegation that he/she had been subjected to forced interrogation and abuse in the Slovak criminal procedure. The Court also took into consideration the fact that a criminal procedure had been initiated in Slovakia against the alleged perpetrators of the forced interrogation and abuse, although a final judgment had not yet been delivered in that case. The Hungarian Regional Court was of the opinion that it could be reasonably presumed that the fundamental rights of the defendant – enshrined in Articles 1, 3, 48 and 4 of the EU Charter – had been violated in the investigation phase of the Slovak criminal procedure, which created a legal ground for the mandatory non-execution of the European arrest warrant. The prosecutor lodged an appeal against the Court’s decision.



[1] Act no. CLXXX of 2012 on cooperation with the Member States of the European Union in criminal matters (2012. évi CLXXX. törvény az Európai Unió tagállamaival folytatott bűnügyi együttműködésről), available at: http://njt.hu/cgi_bin/njt_doc.cgi?docid=156597.350878

Key legal question raised by the Court:

Whether the execution of a European arrest warrant can be refused on the ground that the fundamental rights of the defendant are presumed to have been violated in the criminal procedure, even if the there is no factual basis to presume that the violation would be repeated in the ongoing criminal procedure and the violation does not demonstrate systemic problems in the issuing Member State.

Outcome of the case:

The Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal concluded that the conditions of the execution of the European arrest warrant were met and there was no legal ground for non-execution, thus the extradition detention and eventual extradition of the defendant had to be ordered.

The Regional Court of Appeal (as the second instance court) confirmed that – as a general rule – a serious violation of a defendant’s fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter creates a legal ground for mandatory non-execution of the European arrest warrant, and a final judgment establishing the violation is not necessary in order to reach this conclusion. However, the Court was of the opinion that in the Slovak criminal procedure the alleged violation of the defendant’s fundamental rights had happened in the investigation phase, and there was no factual basis to presume that the violation would be repeated in the trial phase. The Regional Court of Appeal emphasised that non-execution of the European arrest warrant could not be regarded as a sort of sanction against the issuing Member State for one particular fundamental rights violation. The refusal serves the purposes of protecting the principles enshrined in the Treaty on the European Union and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and it can be grounded only on broader, systemic problems.