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Verdict: extradition in the USA even if murder is suspected


Cologne Higher Regional Court: US assurances and pardon practice are sufficient
Cologne (jur). An impending murder charge does not preclude extradition to the United States. It is permissible if the U.S. authorities bindingly waive the death penalty and if there are realistic chances of early release even in life imprisonment, as the Cologne Higher Regional Court (OLG) ruled in a decision announced on Friday, June 3, 2016 ( Ref .: 6 AuslA 134/15 - 102). In the specific case of a Honduran woman, adequate assurances from the United States and a practiced pardon practice were sufficient for the OLG.

The US law enforcement authorities accuse the woman of murdering two people with an accomplice in April 2014. The responsible court in the US state of Louisiana has issued an arrest warrant.

In November 2015, the woman was arrested at a police station in the Cologne area when she tried to file a complaint about another matter. She defends herself against her extradition by pointing out that she is facing the death penalty or at least an “overly severe punishment” in the United States.

The background is the abolition of the death penalty through the Basic Law. In addition, the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe considered extradition to be inadmissible if life imprisonment threatens with no chance of re-socialization (decision of January 13, 2010, ref .: 2 BvR 2299/09). The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg also ruled that serious criminals must always have the chance of release and rehabilitation (see ECHR judgment and JurAgentur announcement of July 9, 2013, ref .: 66069/09, 130 / 10 and 3896/10).

In the case now decided by the Cologne Higher Regional Court, the responsible public prosecutor had sworn that he would not apply for a death penalty; according to US law, the court may not then impose it. The Department of Justice in Washington had also promised that the death penalty would not be imposed or at least not carried out in the event of extradition. The Cologne Higher Regional Court therefore assumed that the Honduran woman would not face the death penalty.

The US authorities had also referred to the possibility of a pardon for "complaint-free execution and good work performance". This is actually used, according to the OLG. Offenders sentenced to life in prison served an average of 20 years in Louisiana. In the case of a double murder, this is also not out of the question in Germany. Overall, delivery is therefore permissible.

The OLG emphasized that it had not examined the allegation of murder itself. Here it is bound to "the conclusive findings of the American court", the court said in its decision of May 30, 2016. mwo / fle

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