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Case C-399/11 Melloni [2013]

Facts

  • Melloni was convicted in Italy for bankruptcy fraud, where he was tried in absentia (without his presence) and sentenced to 10 years in prison
  • Many years later, he was apprehended by Spanish authorities, who sought to extradite Melloni to Italy, where he would be required to serve his sentence
  • Melloni argued in front of the Spanish Constitutional Court that his right to a fair trial (in Italy) had been violated

Issue

  • Should the Spanish Constitutional Court comply with EU law and extradite Melloni, violating its own national constitution in the process; or could the national constitution’s integrity be upheld?

Decision

  • Extradite

Reasoning

  • The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union did not oppose trial in absentia
  • The concept of a trial in absentia had been previously permitted by the European Court of Human Rights
  • EU law is supreme over both national law and national constitutions
  • The Spanish Constitutional Court changed the Spanish Constitution
  • Advocate General Bot, in his opinion on this case, suggested that the Court of Justice’s attitude towards fundamental rights is based on an ‘EU way of life’
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