On Monday, the Irish High Court ordered the surrender of Artur Celmer to face trial in Poland. As reported in a previous blog, Mr Celmer is wanted by Polish authorities to face trial on charges of drug trafficking. Last year, he was arrested under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) in Ireland. He resisted extradition on the grounds that recent judicial reforms in Poland meant the country no longer had an independent judiciary and therefore he would not receive a fair trial heard by an independent and impartial tribunal, in breach of Article 6 ECHR.
Mr Celmer’s case was referred by the Irish High Court to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CJEU held that:
1. the Irish High Court should review up-to-date evidence on the independence of the Polish judiciary and access to a fair trial within Poland;
2. if the Irish High Court found there to be systemic issues and deficiencies within the Polish judicial system, it should determine whether Mr Celmer was likely to be affected by those systemic deficiencies to such an extent that his right of access to an independent and impartial tribunal and fair trial would be impeded.
On 19th November 2018, Ms Justice Donnelly ordered Mr Celmer’s extradition to Poland. She explained that despite the fact that the Irish High Court had originally found “generalised and systemic” violations to the independence of the Polish judiciary which “gave rise to a real risk” that trials might not conform with Article 6 ECHR, in accordance with the CJEU’s ruling the Irish High Court was only concerned with determining whether there was a real risk that Mr Celmer would be denied a fair trial if he was returned to Poland.
Ms Justice Donnelly concluded that although Mr Celmer’s legal team had established “generalised and systemic deficiencies in the independence of the judiciary in Poland”, these deficiencies did not amount to “a real risk there will be a flagrant denial of Mr Celmer’s right to a fair trial”.
Under the Irish High Court’s extradition order, Mr Celmer must be surrendered to Polish authorities within the next 25 days. Mr Celmer’s legal team can now appeal this decision and the case will be mentioned before the Irish High Court again on Monday 26th November.