European court rules extradition of Estonian citizen to Russia by Latvia justified
The European Court of Justice has found that the extradition by Latvia of an Estonian citizen to Russia, the last of which had placed the man's name on Interpol's Wanted Persons list as a suspect in a serious drug-related offense, is justified.
Specifically, the court found in its preliminary ruling that a member state is not obligated to grant a national of one member state who is on the territory of another member state and who is the subject of an extradition request by a third state the same legal protection as that which protects the nationals of said other member state against extradition.
The court also found that Articles 18 and 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union must be interpreted to mean that when a member state to which a Union citizen, a national of another member state, has moved receives an extradition request from a third state with which the first member state has concluded an extradition agreement, it must surrender that citizen to it, provided that the member state has jurisdisction, pursuant to its national law, to prosecute that person for offenses committed outside of its national territory.
The Supreme Court of Latvia asked the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling concerning an extradition request issued by the Russian Federation to the Republic of Latvia in relation to an Estonian national, Aleksei Petruhhin, who had been arrested on the territory of the Republic of Latvia.
Petruhhin was arrested in the town of Bauska, Latvia on Sept. 30, 2014 and placed in provisional custody on Oct. 3, 2014. On Oct. 21, 2014, the Latvian authorities received an extradition request rom the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation stating that criminal proceedings had been initiated against Petruhhin by a Feb. 9, 2009 decision. According to that decision, Petruhhin is accused of attempted large-scale drug trafficking in a criminal association, an offense punishable with up to 8-20 years in prison under Russian law.
The Chief Public Prosecutor of the Republic of Latvia authorized Petruhhin's extradition to Russia. On Dec. 4, 2014, however, Petruhhin filed an appeal against the extradition decision on the grounds that, under Article 1 of the Agreement Between the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Lithuania on Judicial Assistance and Judicial Relations, he enjoyed the same rights in Latvia as a Latvian national and that, consequently, the Republic of Latvia was required to protect him against unjustified extradition.