Court frees al Qaeda suspect, rules EU law invalid
18 July 2005, KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - In a far-reaching decision, Germany's high court Monday allowed an al Qaeda terrorist suspect to go free by ruling that a European Union law on extradition violates the German constitution as it pertains to German citizens.
18 July 2005
KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - In a far-reaching decision, Germany's high court Monday allowed an al Qaeda terrorist suspect to go free by ruling that a European Union law on extradition violates the German constitution as it pertains to German citizens.
The ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe means that the suspected al-Qaeda terrorist, who is a naturalised German citizen, will not be extradited to Spain to stand trial.
The court thus upheld an indefinite stay of extradition in the case involving Mamoun Darkazanli, a Syrian-born naturalized German businessman in Hamburg.
Authorities said he would be released later Monday.
Darkazanli, 47, would have faced up to 20 years in prison in Spain if convicted. He is accused of being the contact person and personal assistant of Osama Bin Laden in Germany as well as being part of a group which bought and maintained a ship for Bin Laden.
Drafted to ensure that a Nazi police state could never gain footing again, Germany's post-war constitution strictly bans extradition of German citizens against their will.
In the past, that clause has meant that accused Nazi war criminals have not been extradited to stand trial in other countries. Most recently, nearly a dozen elderly Nazi war crimes suspects were tried in absentia by a court in Italy after German authorities refused to extradite them, citing the federal constitution.
The high court, in handing down its landmark ruling Monday, stated that the E.U. extradition law, adopted by Germany last year in a bid to expedite anti-terrorist legal action, clearly stands in contradiction with the German constitution.
After Monday's ruling, the European Commission said in a statement emailed to news organizations that Germany must "ensure that the deficiencies in the German law are repaired as soon as possible" in line with the E.U. arrest warrant and the German high court ruling.
Allegedly one of the top al-Qaeda figures in Europe, Darkazanli is suspected of having been an intimate associate of Bin Laden.
Arrested in Hamburg last October, Darkazanli was poised for extradition to Spain last November when constitutional issues were raised about the validity of the new European warrant under which he was arrested.
Darkanzanli became a German citizen in 1990.
Among other things, Darkanzanli has been under investigation by German police for allegedly funnelling money to al-Qaeda. He has denied any involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
He is accused by Spain of being "one of the key figures of the al- Qaeda terrorist network" who has provided logistical and financial support for al-Qaeda since 1997 in Spain, Germany and Britain, the Hamburg State Superior Court said last November.
Subject: German news