The Rusulanas Kovalkovas case is part of a trilogy of cases decided in the same week with Krzystof Marek Poltorak and Halil Ibrahim Özçelik case about the extent of what a ‘judicial authority’ is in the proceedings relating to the execution of a European Arrest Warrant.
The Rechtbank Amsterdam (District Court, Amsterdam) decided to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:
‘(1) Are the expressions “judicial authority”, within the meaning of Article 6(1) of [the] Framework Decision ..., and “judicial decision”, within the meaning of Article 1(1) of [the] Framework Decision ..., autonomous terms of EU law?
(2) If the answer to Question 1 is in the affirmative: what are the criteria for determining whether an authority of the issuing Member State is such a “judicial authority” and whether the [European arrest warrant] issued by it is consequently such a “judicial decision”?
(3) If the answer to Question 1 is in the affirmative: is the [Lithuanian] Ministry of Justice ... covered by the term “judicial authority”, within the meaning of Article 6(1) of [the] Framework Decision ..., and is the European arrest warrant issued by that authority consequently a “judicial decision” within the meaning of Article 1(1) of [the] Framework Decision ... ?
(4) If the answer to Question 1 is in the negative: is the designation of a national police authority, such as the [Lithuanian] Ministry of Justice ..., as the issuing judicial authority in conformity with EU law?’
The Court ruled that the term ‘judicial authority’, referred to in Article 6(1) of Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States, as amended by Council Framework Decision 2009/299/JHA of 26 February 2009, is an autonomous concept of EU law and that provision must be interpreted as meaning that it prohibits an organ of the executive, such as the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania, from being designated as an ‘issuing judicial authority’, within the meaning of the same Article 6(1), meaning that the European arrest warrant issued by it with a view to executing a judgment imposing a custodial sentence cannot be regarded as a ‘judicial decision’, within the meaning of Article 1(1) of Framework Decision 2002/584, as amended by Framework Decision 2009/299.
Therefore the concept does not extend to officials in the Lithuanian justice ministry .
Case Number C-477/16 PPU
Name of the parties Openbaar Ministerie v Ruslanas Kovalkovas
Date of the judgement 2016-11-10
Court Court of Justice (ECJ)