German politicians are split on a ruling by Germany's highest court that struck a blow to the EU arrest warrant. The justice minister wants revisions implemented before September, others see a threat to citizens' rights.
The ruling of the Constitutional Court is being called a "setback"
Only hours after judges ruled in Mamoun Darkazanli's favor, he dashed away in a taxi without comment. The German-Syrian had been wanted by Spanish authorities for a possible connection to the al Qaeda, in particular for links to the Hamburg cell that led the September 11, 2001 attacks.
German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries was quick to speak, calling the court's decision "another setback for the German government in the fight against terrorism."
Mamoun Darkazanli and many others will walk free after Karlsruhe ruling
Now was time for damage control after yet another blow against the Schröder administration by German judges. Previous trials against suspected terrorists have ended with lower-court convictions being overturned and retried, as is currently the case with Mounir el Motassadeq. Or a not guilty ruling was handed down, as was the case with Abdelghani Mzoudi last October.
New legislation possible?
Zypries defended herself after the ruling was read. She said it was impossible to know that the Federal Constitutional Court would rule the whole law invalid. She had expected Karlsruhe to ask for revisions to the legislation that approved the EU arrest warrant. That didn't happen and now action must be taken.
Zypries has said she would like a revised law implemented in four to six weeks. Yet with possible September elections brewing, party colleagues don't think there will be enough time to pass a new bill.
The SPD's domestic policy expert, Dieter Wiefelspütz (photo) is more skeptical.
"I can't imagine that we have a chance to pass it in this legislative period," he said on German public radio.
He said that the ruling must be closely reviewed and also stressed that the anti-terrorism legislation must be passed within the boundaries of the constitution and that shouldn't be weakened.
Greens politician Hans-Christian Ströbele called the decision a box on the ears for both the parliament and the ruling government.
Opposition happy over ruling
While ruling politicians grumbled over the verdict, the opposition couldn't keep its emotions from showing. Bavaria's Interior Minister Günther Beckstein (photo) welcomed the ruling and said it was right that the Karlsruhe-based court upheld a constitutional article that prevents the state from extraditing its citizens.
"I wouldn't want a German citizen to be extradited to a foreign country without him having had the chance of receiving a hearing in a German court," he said.
Former Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberg only saw here doubts confirmed: "From the beginning I had my doubts about the implementation of the European arrest warrant in Germany."
Europe must now wait on a new law. The European Commission urged German politicians, be it those in the current coalition or possibly a new conservative government, to address the matter and pass a law that would make the EU arrest warrant valid in Germany, and hence, give it some bite across the continent.