An Irish high court judge has refused to extradite a suspected drugs trafficker to Poland due to concerns about the integrity of the Polish justice system, in a landmark decision that could lead to a showdown between the Polish government and the European court of justice (ECJ).
Justice Aileen Donnelly referred the extradition case of Artur Celmer – a Polish man arrested on drugs charges in Ireland last year – to the ECJ because recent legislative changes to the Polish judicial system had been “so immense” that Ireland’s high court had been forced to conclude that the rule of law in Poland had been “systematically damaged”, undermining the “mutual trust” that underpinned the European arrest warrant process.
Laurent Pech, professor of European law at Middlesex University, told the Guardian that there could be dramatic consequences if the ECJ ruled that the Polish judicial system was in contravention of European standards.
“If the [ECJ] stops recognising Polish courts as courts within the meaning of EU law, this could then leave the European commission no choice but to suspend EU funding to Poland. The impact on commercial arbitration involving Polish companies may also in time be too significant to be comfortably ignored by Polish authorities.”
My report for the Guardian can be found here.