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Polish man fighting extradition from Ireland citing the alleged corruption of his own country's legal system

Artur Celmer is the subject of three separate extradition warrants from his native country (where he claims he could not get a fair trial) for alleged drug trafficking.

shutterstock_583913047 Source: Shutterstock/R.classen

THE HIGH COURT is set to rule on a unique extradition case in the coming weeks regarding a Polish man who is wanted in his own country in connection with alleged drug trafficking offences.

Artur Celmer has been living in Ireland for 10 years. He has now been in custody for the past nine months pending three separate extradition orders served against him by his home country.

His legal counsel yesterday argued the extradition order should not be complied with as, given Poland’s ongoing judicial problems, there is no chance he could be granted a fair trial there.

In 2017, Poland passed a series of laws which saw the country’s government granted the power, amongst other things, to replace its supreme court judges at will.

The ruling was ostensibly invoked in order to allow an overhaul of the country’s judiciary, which the ruling PiS party claimed was necessary in order to heighten the legal system’s effectiveness and weed out appointees who were hangovers from Poland’s communist past.

Article Seven

The European Commission has not looked kindly on those moves however and, following a long-running investigation, last December invoked Article Seven of the Treaty on European Union against Poland, which gives it the power to suspend certain (funding or voting) rights for a member state, a decision which left the Polish government ‘furious’.

Poland Israel Holocaust Law Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, pictured in Markowa, Poland, yesterday Source: Alik Keplicz/PA Images

The EC’s arguments are that Poland is in danger of sporting a judicial system which is overly vulnerable to political interference, and incapable of impartiality via the separation of powers.

Celmer’s legal team say his hearing is a unique test case, which will provide precedent as to how other EU states comply with Polish judicial decrees in the current climate.

“This case appears to be the lead test case within the European Union dealing with extraditions to Poland under the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, and the presumption of extradition within EU Member States as a result of the highly controversial judicial reforms in Poland,” Celmer’s legal firm Fahy Bambury said in a statement ahead of yesterday’s hearing, with solicitor Ciarán Mulholland adding it “would be unjust to surrender my client to Poland in such concerning circumstances”.

Yesterday, at Celmer’s extradition hearing before Justice Aileen Donnelly in the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin, senior counsel Sean Guerin argued that there could be no confidence that Celmer’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Irish Constitution would be protected were he to be extradited.

The defence’s case took in numerous points of objection, including the alleged poor condition of Polish prisons, and the family life which Celmer has built up in Ireland.

Donnelly adjourned the case until 12 March, although she admitted her decision may take longer even than that, given the sensitivities surrounding the case.

Comments are closed as a judgement is pending

Additional reporting Eoin Reynolds

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