By Frances Gibb
Crown Prosecution Service lawyers will put the case on behalf of the German authorities tomorrow that Fredrick Toben, an Australian doctor, should be extradited for offences allegedly committed in Germany.
The case is the latest example of the global reach of criminal laws - and of their impact between one European country and another.
The extradition request is being made under the European Arrest Warrant, a fast-track procedure to allow criminal suspects to be sent between European states.
The warrant, which came into force in January 2004, abolished the principle of “dual criminality” that existed under old extradition laws. This means that someone in Britain can be extradited for something that is not a crime here - as long as it is a criminal offence in the state requesting extradition.
The reform was rushed through in part as a response to terrorism after September 11. Ministers also argued that it would speed up a cumbersome and slow extradition process, helping criminals to be brought more swiftly to justice.
Critics pointed out, however, that people could find themselves charged with an offence they did not know existed because racism or xenophobia, for example, can be interpreted differently in different jurisdictions. The spectre of “thought crime”, a person facing trial for broadcasting xenophobic or racist remarks such as denying the Holocaust on an internet chatroom in another country - as alleged against Dr Toben - was the very criticism raised against the warrant before it took effect. (…Full Article)
Subject: fax to Australian High Commissioner re; Dr Töben arrest in UK
Michèle, Lady Renouf,
P.O. Box 18812,
London, SW7 4WD.
Tel/Fax: 0207 460 7453
2nd October 2008
High Commissioner to the UK,
Mr. John Dauth LVO,
Australian High Commission,
Strand, London, WC2B 4LA.
Fax: 0207 240 5333 [Send your faxes here!]
As you will be aware the British police and Crown Prosecution Service have executed a Mannheim-originating warrant on an Australian national, the historian Dr. Fredrick Töben, who was arrested on board an aeroplane at Heathrow while simply in transit from the USA to Dubai.
Even as he had no intention of entering Britain, he was seized off the aeroplane and brought into this country where his alleged crimes do not even constitute an offence.
For the first time, therefore, the European Arrest Warrant is being used in a manner that we in Britain were assured would not be applied in Britain,which has declined to adopt a ‘Holocaust denial’ law, because it is contrary to British traditions of freedom of enquiry and expression.
The situation is summed up in today’s Times under the headline:’
Extradition bid raises fears of ‘thought crime’ offences’.
I trust that the High Commission will provide consular assistance to Dr.Töben and will monitor this disturbing and unprecedented development so as to keep our fellow Australians informed of what they can expect from the UK legal system when travelling or in transit.