Hungary / Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal / 5.Beuf.10.142/2018 (EBD2018.B.23.) Defendant with foreign nationality and public prosecutor representing the State

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.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

“[24] It can be reasonably presumed that [in the Slovak criminal procedure] the fundamental rights of the defendant, namely the right to human dignity in Title I Article 1 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the right to integrity of the person in Article 3 and the rights of the presumption of innocence and of defence had been violated and the criminal procedure had infringed the prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment as formulated by Article 4.” (Please note that this is an excerpt from the summary of the judgment of the first instance court as formulated by the Regional Court of Appeal. This is part of the judgment of the Regional Court of Appeal but does not constitute an integral part of its own reasoning.)

“[25] The Fundamental Rights Charter is a European Union legal act destined for the protection of fundamental rights, and if a reasonable suspicion of the violation of multiple rights enshrined in the Charter can be raised it must also be concluded that the execution of the European arrest warrant would seriously violate the rights of the defendant in the criminal procedure [Article 5 (1) f) of Act no. CLXXX of 2012 on cooperation with the Member States of the European Union in criminal matters]. Without such a conclusion, this particular legal ground for non-execution of the European arrest warrant would not make sense.” (Please note that this is an excerpt from the summary of the judgment of the first instance court as formulated by the Regional Court of Appeal. This is part of the judgment of the Regional Court of Appeal but does not constitute an integral part of its own reasoning.)

“[26] The second instance court [The Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal] agreed with the conclusion of the Regional Court that it could be reasonably presumed that the fundamental rights of the defendant enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – as specified in the first instance court decision – had been violated in the investigation phase of the criminal procedure initiated against the defendant on the ground of qualified theft which served the basis of the European arrest warrant.” 

„[27] [The Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal] also agreed with the argument [of the first instance court] that these circumstances can be taken into consideration even if the violation of the [defendant`s] rights is not established by a final judgment.”

„[28] [The Budapest-Capital Regional Court of Appeal] however did not agree with the conclusion [of the first instance court] that it can be reasonably presumed on the basis of a previous violation of rights that the execution of the EAW would imply the threat of further fundamental rights violation.”

“[32] In the present case there is no factual basis to conclude that in the criminal proceedings before the Slovak court initiated against the defendant for theft the fundamental rights of the defendant would suffer further violations.”

„[36] The denial to execute the EAW cannot be a sort of sanction against the issuing state for a previous fundamental rights violation.”

“[37] The examined ground of 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 based only on broader, systemic problems. This is confirmed by the examples cited in the preamble of the 2002/584/JHA Council Framework Decision,[1] which concern the grounds for refusing extradition. For example, if it can be reasonably presumed that the arrest warrant has been issued for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing a person on the grounds of his or her sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, language, political opinions or sexual orientation, or that that person's position may be prejudiced for any of these reasons (paragraph 12 of the framework decision). The refusal can be based on the ground that the person would be expelled or extradited to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (paragraph 13 of the framework decision).”



[1] 2002/584/JHA Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States, OJ 2002 L 190.

 

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

’’[24] Alappal feltehető ugyanis, hogy az eljárásban megsértették az Európai Unió Alapjogi Chartájának I. cím 1. cikkében foglalt emberi méltósághoz, a 3. cikkében írt személyi sérthetetlenségéhez fűződő, illetve a VI. cím 48. cikkében oltalmazott ártatlanság vélelméhez és a védelemhez való jogait, illetve az ellene folytatott nyomozati eljárás a 4. cikkben megfogalmazott kínzás és embertelen bánásmód tilalmába ütközött.”

’’[25] Az Alapjogi Charta olyan európai uniós jogi aktus, amely az alapvető jogok biztosítására hivatott, amennyiben az abban rögzített több jog sérelmének az alapos gyanúja megállapítható, meg kell állapítani azt is, hogy az európai elfogatóparancs végrehajtása súlyosan sértené a büntetőeljárás során terheltet megillető meghatározott jogforrásokban rögzített alapvető jogokat [Eutv. 5. § (1) bek. f) pont]. Ennek hiányában az európai elfogatóparancs megtagadásnak ezen oka nem lenne értelmezhető.”

’’[26] A másodfokú bíróság egyetértett az F.-i Törvényszéknek azzal a megállapításával, hogy alappal feltehető, hogy a terhelttel szemben a minősített lopás bűncselekménye miatt folyamatban lévő, az európai elfogatóparancs kibocsátásának alapjául szolgáló büntetőeljárás nyomozati szakában súlyosan sérültek az Európai Unió Alapjogi Chartájában rögzített, az elsőfokú végzésben megjelölt alapvető terhelti jogok.”

„[27] Egyetértett azzal is, hogy e körülmény figyelembevételéhez nem szükséges a jogsértés megtörténtének a jogerős megállapítása.”

„[28] Nem értett egyet azonban azzal a következtetéssel, hogy e miatt a múltbeli, egyszeri jogsérelem miatt az is alappal feltehető, hogy az európai elfogatóparancs végrehajtása ezen - vagy más - alapjogok sérelmének a további veszélyét hordozná magában.”

„[32] Jelen esetben nincs ténybeli alap annak a megállapítására, hogy a szlovák bíróság előtt minősített lopás bűntette miatt a terhelttel szemben folyó eljárásban a terhelt jogai további súlyos sérelmet szenvednének.”

„[36] Az európai elfogatóparancs végrehajtásának a megtagadása nem lehet a kibocsátó tagállammal szembeni egyfajta szankció egy korábban megvalósult eseti, alapjogi sérelem miatt.”

’’[37] A megtagadás vizsgált esete csak az Európai Unióról Szóló Szerződésben, illetve az Európai Unió Alapjogi Chartájában rögzített alapelvek védelmét szolgálhatja és rendszerszintű, szélesebb körű aggályok esetén állapítható meg. Ezt igazolják a 2002/584/IB tanácsi kerethatározat preambulumában meghatározott példaként jelölt esetek, amik az átadás megtagadásának a lehetőségeire vonatkoznak. E körbe tartozik, ha objektív adatok alapján alappal feltehető, hogy az elfogatóparancs kibocsátására azért került sor, hogy adott személy neme, faji vagy vallási hovatartozása, etnikai származása, állampolgársága, anyanyelve, politikai meggyőződése vagy szexuális irányultsága alapján vonják büntetőeljárás alá, vagy megbüntessék, illetve feltehető, hogy helyzetét bármely ilyen körülmény hátrányosan befolyásolja [kerethatározat preambulum (12) bek.]. Megtagadásra ad okot, ahol annak áll fenn a veszélye, hogy az adott államban a keresett személyt halálbüntetésnek, kínzásnak, vagy egyéb embertelen vagy megalázó bánásmódnak, illetve büntetésnek vetik alá [kerethatározat preambulum (13) bek.].”

Language: 
Hungarian
Deciding body (original language): 
Fővárosi Ítélőtábla
Language: 
Hungarian