Portugal / Supreme Court of Justice / 211/12.6YRCBR.S1 Portuguese citizen v Coimbra Appeals Court

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.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 


Comply with, assess and decide upon: "In compliance with the Council Framework Decision No. 2002/584/JHA of 13 June, Law 65/2003 of 23 August, published in the Government Gazette, Series I A, No. 194 of 23 August 2003, was drawn up in approval of the legal system of the European Arrest Warrant which came into force on 1 January 2004". "As regards the European Arrest Warrant and the surrendering procedures among the Member-States (2002/584/JHA), the Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 had in mind the execution of the principle of the mutual recognition of criminal judgements referred to in point 37 of the Tampere European Council conclusions and approved by the Council on 30 November 2000. The endorsement of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was the first concrete step in the domain of criminal law in terms of mutual recognition, and, in the European Council’s view, it was “the cornerstone of judicial co-operation” "(point [33]) "The Framework Decision respects fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised by Article 6 of Treaty on European Union and reflected in the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, in particular Chapter VI thereof. Nothing in the Framework Decision may be interpreted as prohibing refusal to surrender a person against whom a European arrest warrant has been issued when there are reasons to believe that, on the basis of objective elements, the said 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 person’s position may be prejudiced for any of these reasons." (Framework Decision (12).

Deciding body (original language): 
Supremo Tribunal de Justiça