Posted Under: Civil Liberties
Today Gary Mann, a 52 year old former fire fighter, will be extradited to serve a 2 year prison sentence imposed by a Portugese court.
Mann was originally arrested during the Euro 2004 football tournament, on suspicion of causing a riot. He was tried and convicted within 48 hours of his initial arrest. At his trial he and 11 other men were represented by just 2 lawyers, and Mann had just 5 minutes to meet with his lawyer before he appeared in court. He had little opportunity to call witnesses and was unable to understand most of the trial because of the poor quality of the translation.
He was deported and there appears to have been some confusion about this. It seems the Portugese authorities expected him to be imprisoned in the UK, and since he was not, they are now bringing him back to surve his sentence in Portugal, and the British authorities are playing along.
The most ridiculous thing about this case is the virtual consensus amongst all concerned parties that his trial was a joke. A UK police officer, who was posted to Portugal during euro 2004 to help nail hooligans, described the trial as a farce. A year after he was deported the Met applied for an order – on the strength of his conviction – banning Mann from football matches. The court refused on the grounds that he”d not received a fair trial. And then recently Lord Justice Moses rejected his injunction against extradition, claiming the court was powerless to act, but made abundantly clear that he inds the case against him seriously questionable.
The reason it has been so hard to stop the extradition, is that it was demanded by Portugal under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW). European Arrest Warrants were established by the European Commision some years back as a means of fast tracking alleged criminals between member states. As such they seriously limit the capacity of one EU member to refuse an extradition request from another member state. Most significantly, from the perspective of Gary Mann, they are founded on the presumption that all EU justice systems are equally capable of delivering fair and just verdicts. As such it is extremely difficult for courts to refuse extradition on the grounds of an unfair trial and conviction.
In short the desire for European (elite) co-operation has been placed ahead of basic civil liberties. Today the British state will be actively involved in putting one of it’s citizens behind bars for two years, despite knowing that there is no good case to justify such a punishment. And this case will hardly be the last. With all due respect to our neighbours, one cannot escape the fact that the EU contains alot of young democracies: nearly half became parliamentary democracies between the 1970s and the 1990. Is it really wise and responsible to enfrce upon our courts a presumtion that every European conviction is safe?
I have, in the past, expressed my discomfort with the EU, not as a patriot but as a socialist and as a democrat. This latest case, meanwhile, should churn the stomach of anybody with a basic commitment to civil liberties. Yet the liberal-left europhiles – the people who think that it is necessarily “left wing” to support the EU, and who see every euroskeptic is an unenlightened little Englander – they remain as brazen as ever. Writing in the independent, Johan Hari recently told us that the EAW was a “simple procedure”, and that opposing it was indicative of “dogmatic Europhobia”. In reality, it is Liberal europhiles who are often the most dogmatic. It is they who continually percieve the EU in blurry, cartoonish terms – as a symbol of cosmopolitanism and cooperation – rather than engaging with the more problematic reality of what it does and how it actually works.
To contact Reuben email firstname.lastname@example.org