Germany

EU citizen may not be extradited to USA due to the prohibition of double jeopardy

Under the principle of double jeopardy (ne bis in idem), extradition may not be granted if the person sought has already been acquitted or sentenced by the competent authorities of the requested State for the offence for which extradition is requested.

In a decision of 15 May 2020, the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court extended this principle and ruled that the right not to be prosecuted or punished twice in criminal proceedings for the same offence applies not only to German citizens but also to EU citizens. Previously, this legal principle applied only to German citizens and their convictions in Germany.

After an Italian citizen was arrested at Frankfurt airport on suspicion of art forgery and involvement in organised crime, the US authorities demanded that the suspect be extradited to the US. Since the suspect had already been convicted of the same crime in Italy, the Higher Regional Court refused the extradition request.

The Higher Regional Court ruled that, as a matter of principle, protection against double jeopardy is only granted to own nationals, i.e. to citizens of the requested state. However, the principle must also be extended to other citizens of the EU. This is the only way to ensure that an EU citizen is protected against extradition requests comparable to the protection of his or her home state in every other EU state and can move freely within the EU. Otherwise, it would lead to inadmissible unequal treatment if an EU citizen could not be extradited if he or she were arrested in his or her home state, but could be extradited if the arrest took place in another EU Member State. If the person being prosecuted had been arrested in Italy as an Italian national, she would not have been extradited to the US. This must also apply if she is arrested in Germany.

Automotive supplier fined for software and supervision errors

The Public Prosecutor's Office in Stuttgart has announced that it has fined a car parts maker and global technology company 42.5 million euros over software errors and supervision failures. Of this amount, 2.5 million euros relates to the sanctioning of the administrative offence; the remaining 40 million euros will be used to skim off the economic benefits from the sales of product. The company accepts the penalty, and worked constructively with the investigative authorities, said the prosecutor.