Practice Relating to Rule 161. International Cooperation in Criminal Proceedings
Germany’s Law on International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (1982) states: “A foreign person who, in a foreign State, is prosecuted or has been convicted for an offence punishable in that State, can, on the request of a competent authority, be extradited to that State.”
In 2003, in the Al-Moayad case, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court held:
The constitutional complaint is rejected as unfounded.
By way of his constitutional complaint, the complainant challenges orders of the Frankfurt am Main Higher Regional Court … that declared the complainant’s extradition to the United States of America for criminal prosecution admissible and rejected the remonstrances that the complainant made against the orders as unfounded.
1. According to his own statement, the complainant is an adviser of the Yemeni Minister for Religious Foundations in the rank of an undersecretary of state and imam of the Al-Ihsan Mosque in Sanaa/Yemen.
He was arrested in Frankfurt am Main on 10 January 2003, together with his secretary. The arrest was based on an arrest warrant of 5 January 2003 issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The United States prosecution authorities charge the complainant with having provided money, weapons and communications equipment to terrorist groups, in particular Al-Qaeda and Hamas, and with having recruited new members for these groups, between October 1997 and his arrest.
Instrumental in making the complainant travel to Germany were conversations that a Yemeni citizen maintained with the complainant in Yemen in an undercover mission of the United States investigation and prosecution authorities. The confidential informant convinced the complainant that he could bring him into contact with another person abroad who was willing to make a major financial contribution. In this context, it is controversial for what purposes the money was supposed to be donated. According to the statement made by the complainant’s secretary in his interrogation by the German investigation authorities in which he was heard as a person charged with a criminal offence, the decision to travel to Germany was based on the complainant’s voluntary decision.
2. On the basis of the order of the Frankfurt am Main Higher Regional Court of 14 January 2003, the complainant was placed under provisional arrest pending extradition. On 24 January 2003, the Embassy of the United States sent a request for the complainant’s extradition for criminal prosecution to the federal government. The request for extradition was based on the extradition treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America of 20 June 1978 … in conjunction with the supplementary treaty of 21 October 1986 …
5. In a verbal note of 22 May 2003, the United States Embassy assured that the complainant would not be prosecuted by a military tribunal pursuant to the Presidential Military Order of 13 November 2001 (U.S. Federal Register of 16 November 2001, Vol. 66 No. 222, pp. 57831 et seq.) or by any other extraordinary court. The assurance was given preserving the United States’ legal opinion that the military commissions provided in the Presidential Military Order are no extraordinary courts within the meaning of Article 13 of the extradition treaty between Germany and the United States of America.
By way of his constitutional complaint, the complainant challenges a violation of Article 101.1 sentence 2 in conjunction with Article 100.2, Article 2.2 in conjunction with Article 25, Article 2.1, Article 2.1 in conjunction with Article 1.1 and Article 19.4, Article 103.1 and 103.2 of the Basic Law and of his right to a fair trial.
The admissible constitutional complaint is unfounded.
The complainant’s rights under Article 2.1 in conjunction with Article 1.1 of the Basic Law and Article 19.4 of the Basic Law have not been violated. The Higher Regional Court declared the extradition admissible in accordance with the constitutional preconditions. This also applies to the extent that the complainant had applied for a further investigation into the facts of the case as concerns methods of interrogation in the United States that are allegedly contrary to due process of law. The Higher Regional Court had rejected this submission with reference to a lack of indications to this effect in the United States’ practice. This reasoning is constitutionally unobjectionable.
On the one hand, the reasoning is consistent with the Federal Constitutional Court’s recent case-law, pursuant to which in mutual assistance concerning extradition, especially if it is rendered on the basis of treaties under international law, the requesting State is, in principle, to be shown trust as concerns its compliance with the principles of due process of law and of the protection of human rights. This principle can claim validity as long as it is not shaken by facts to the contrary (Order of the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court of 24 June 2003 – 2 BvR 685/03 –, Extradition to India). Such facts did not exist at the point in time of the Higher Regional Court’s decision.
On the other hand, decisive consideration must be given to the fact that the United States precluded the possible application of the Presidential Military Order of 13 November 2001 by their assurance of 22 May 2003. Thus, the United States have entered into the obligation, which is binding under international law, neither to bring the complainant before an extraordinary court after his extradition nor to apply the procedural law that is provided in the Order of 13 November 2001 nor to take the complainant to an internment camp. There are no indications to suggest that the United States would, upon the complainant’s extradition, not comply with the assurance given.
Moreover, it is to be taken into consideration that the relations of mutual judicial assistance that exist between Germany and the United States on the basis of treaties under international law have been intensified even more by the signing of the Agreement on Mutual Judicial Assistance in Criminal Matters on 14 October 2003. This circumstance confirms the assumption that, in principle, the United States will comply with their obligations vis-à-vis Germany (on this, cf. the Order of the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court of 24 June 2003 – 2 BvR 685/03 –, III 2.b).
Moreover, it can be assumed that the federal government itself will observe the further proceedings in the United States through its diplomatic missions.