Hague Court of Appeals: no bars to extradition of International Crimes suspect to Georgia
The Hague Court of Appeals has delivered its ruling in civil proceedings brought by a 48 year-old Georgian suspect of involvement in International Crimes. It found that there were no impediments to his extradition to Georgia. With this judgment, the Court of Appeals has confirmed an earlier decision of the Minister for Security and Justice allowing the extradition of the man. This is an example of successful cooperation between The Netherlands and Georgia.
Torture and Murder
Since his arrest on 19 June 2014, the Georgian is in provisional custody for extradition for torture and murder. The man is suspected of having lured three prisoners into an ambush and killed them together with others according to a previously agreed plan in early 2006. The erstwhile head of the prison department in Georgia allegedly planned the secret operation because the three prisoners had plans to escape.
The 48 year-old man is said to have ordered the prisoners to be transported to the area of a bus station in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Armed members of the security service and other units including the suspect, are believed to have laid an ambush for them there. The extradition request states that after the prisoners had left their transport, they were fired upon, fell down wounded and were subsequently shot through the head at close range. Afterwards, those involved are stated to have doctored evidence in order to hide the true course of events in relation to the killings.
The Georgian is also accused of having ordered the torture of a detainee when he worked in a different position at a security unit of the Ministry of Defense in 2011. He was acquitted of this charge by the Georgian Court in first instance and on Appeal, but further appeals proceedings are currently pending. The Dutch extradition case therefore still has bearing on the torture charge.
In their request of 3 June 2014, the Georgian authorities have requested the extradition of the Georgian resident of The Hague.
On 14 November 2014, the court of first instance in The Hague has ruled that the man may be extradited. His defense lodged an appeal against this decision on 19 November 2014. The Supreme Court of The Netherlands has rejected this appeal on 9 June 2015.
In his decision of 3 September, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice has decided to grant the extradition request. The suspect has lodged his request for provisional measures against this decision on 4 November. In its judgment of 18 November 2015, the Hague Court of First Instance ruled that extradition of the suspect to Georgia would not be a wrongful act. The suspect lodged an appeal against this decision.
No Safe Haven
The Netherlands are committed to not being a safe haven for perpetrators of international crimes such as torture.. Therefore, The Netherlands International Crimes Unit and National Prosecutor’s Office are dedicated to tracking and prosecuting war criminals, even if this may sometimes take years.
The point of departure for the Netherlands is that the investigation and prosecution of international crimes should take place in the State where the crimes were committed if possible. In most cases, that is where most of the evidence is and where participants in proceedings are best acquainted with language, culture and background of the relevant events. More importantly, that is where usually most of the victims and their relatives are.