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Portugal / Supreme Court of Justice / 211/12.6YRCBR.S1

Portuguese citizen v Coimbra Appeals Court

Policy area:
Justice, freedom and security
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Portugal / Supreme Court of Justice
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

The Sens Court issued a European arrest warrant involving a Portuguese citizen, who is a resident in Portugal, in order to carry out criminal proceedings indicting him for engaging in sexual assaults while during his stays in France and in Portugal. The victims were his three femal grandchildren, his god-daughter and a female childhood friend of the aforementioned, all less than 15 years of age. The Coimbra Appeals Court granted the execution of the arrest warrant against which the accused was now appealing. The appellant stated that there were reasons for refusing the execution of the arrest warrant: the time bar limit on the proceedings had elapsed; one of the alleged crimes had occurred in Portugal and the evidence underpinning the warrant being issued involved different acts and laws which could not be examined as a whole because in doing so, the right to defence would be jeopardised. The Supreme Court of Justice examined the Council Framework Decision, more specifically the reasons for refusing the execution of the warrant and the application of constitutional rules regarding the right to a fair trial. The Court concluded that the decision under appeal did not contain any illegality or breach in the exercise of fundamental rights, mainly the rights pertaining to the appellant’s defence. In concrete, the Court considered that the time-bar limits only apply when the Portuguese courts have the power to learn about the acts that merit the warrant being issued. Indeed, owing to the fact that criminal proceedings were in course in the State which had issued the warrant and that there was no criminal case in Portugal at the time the warrant had been issued, it was not possible to issue one now under the penalty of double jeopardy breach of the prohibition (ne bis in idem). The Court added that France was in a better position to know about the appellant’s criminal activity and go ahead with judging the facts regardless of the place in which each crime had been committed.