For the last incoming letter in December 2020, I had to wait two years for the German Federal Constitutional Court, which then finally published a much-noticed ("Süddeutsche Zeitung", "Frankfurter Rundschau") decision on 30 December, with which it overturned an extradition decision of the Celle Higher Regional Court on my application. While the proceedings in Karlsruhe were ongoing, my client had already been spared extradition custody due to the looming overlong duration of the extradition proceedings.

German extradition lawyer on successful constitutional complaint

It is noteworthy, among other things, that with this decision, the Second Senate of the German Federal Constitutional Court for the first time recognised fundamental Union rights as a direct standard of review for German constitutional complaints. The renowned "Verfassungsblog" next day spoke of the "fundamental rights turnaround at the turn of the year". I don't think my client is as interested in the dogmatics as in the success itself.

A few weeks earlier, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm (decision of 22.10.2020 - 2 Ausl 104/20) released one of my clients from prison on the rare grounds that the extradition of the prosecuted to the USA was inadmissible because the persecuted would face an unbearably harsh sentence if found guilty in the USA. The significance of this decision can only be understood if one knows how rarely extradition is refused in Germany because of the threat of an unbearably harsh sentence abroad; almost never.

Obstacle to extradition "unbearably harsh punishment" in the USA

In the context of extradition decisions, the Federal Constitutional Court still stated in 2016: "Since the Basic Law is based on Germany's integration into the international legal order of the community of states ....., it also requires that the structures and contents of foreign legal systems and views be fundamentally respected in mutual legal assistance even if they do not correspond in detail with German domestic views" (BVerfG Beschl. v. 28.7.2016 - 2 BvR 1468/16).

A decision came from London in the last days of the year and, in a way that cannot be precisely explained, is certainly also connected with the Corona pandemic and with Brexit, but would in any case be unexplainable without the hardships this caused the English. In a hard-fought extradition case at the Higher Regional Court of Berlin, the English decided in the last days of December to withdraw the extradition request, despite a high expectation of punishment, after we had only conveyed to them that our client might need medical care on a considerable scale in the near future. We were able to use the momentum, that's all it was, but for one person it was a rescue.

Extradition detention in Corona times

But the Corona pandemic has also directly concerned me several times in 2020 in connection with extradition proceedings. Some German Higher Regional Courts have decided that the COVID 19 pandemic can justify the suspension of extradition deadlines in the case of extradition to another EU state and, until further notice, the extension of extradition custody in Germany (e.g. OLG Karlsruhe, decision of 27.03.2020 - Ausl. 301 AR 47/20). - At the Higher Regional Court of Koblenz, however, I was granted a reprieve from detention when Croatia declared that it was currently unable to accept prisoners there whose extradition Croatia had been pushing for until the Corona crisis.



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