FORMER Justice Minister Daniel Lipšic (KDH) and current Justice Minister Štefan Harabin (HZDS) have called a ceasefire in their war of words just long enough to criticise the recent court rulings that overturned the extradition order against suspected terrorist Mustapha Labsi.
Lipšic and Harabin agree that the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court orders to release Labsi from custody rather than extradite him to Algeria created a precedent that could endanger Slovakia’s security.
Harabin told The Slovak Spectator that he felt he needed to comment on the ruling, even though he never does so, because it risked making Slovakia a haven for terrorists.
“In this case, I cannot help but think that terrorists who kill civilians have more rights than their innocent victims,” Harabin said.
Lipšic laid the blame on the Justice Ministry, which he said should have extradited Labsi before the courts were able to prevent it.
“The Justice Ministry’s inactivity on this case was startling,” Lipšic said. “In the fight against terrorism, actions prevail, not words.”
In 2005, an Algerian court convicted Labsi in absentia for links to terrorist groups, including the Al-Qaeda network, and sentenced him to life in prison. Labsi was arrested last year after being deported from Austria to Slovakia, which then moved to extradite him to Algeria.
Algeria issued a guarantee that Labsi would not be tortured upon return, but Amnesty International and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees cast doubt on that, and warned that the extradition would violate Labsi’s human rights.
In January, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that ordered Labsi’s extradition, but the Constitutional Court halted it in June, ruling that doing so could subject him to torture. And in July, the European Court for Human Rights issued an injunction preventing Labsi’s extradition until all appeals are exhausted.
On August 7, the Supreme Court decided that Labsi would not be extradited, because it could violate his human rights. But he was immediately taken back into custody, this time by the Slovak Border and Alien Police, who whisked him away to the Medveďov Police Detention Centre.
Silvia Miháliková from the Interior Ministry, which oversees the Border and Alien Police, told the SITA newswire on
August 7 that the deportation order from last year is being carried out.
“The order is still valid,” she said.
Mária Kolíková, Labsi’s lawyer, told to The Slovak Spectator that the order had banned Labsi from entering Slovakia for 10 years.
Kolíková reported that Labsi has asked for asylum since arriving in Medveďov.
Her view is that the Supreme Court’s decision to free him should be taken into consideration, but noted the negativity surrounding his case.
“This would probably prevent him from fully integrating, even if he was granted asylum,” she said.
Kolíková added that the original charges against Labsi, which will likely lead to his asylum application being rejected, should be investigated.
“This would be also to his benefit,” she said. “Because he would get the chance to prove his innocence.”
On August 13, the European Court for Human Rights ruled again that Slovakia cannot return Labsi to Algeria until all administrative procedures, including asylum applications and appeals, have been exhausted.