BERLIN - An Israeli man suspected of involvement in the assassination of a top Hamas official can be extradited to Germany, a Polish court ruled yesterday. Israel had asked Poland not to comply with the German extradition request.
Warsaw regional court Judge Tomasz Calkiewicz said the suspect, whose passport identified him as Uri Brodsky, would be extradited on suspicion of forgery and not on espionage charges, noting that spying against Germany is not a crime in Poland.
German prosecutors said yesterday that Brodsky is not suspected of direct involvement in the assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January, but rather of the less serious charges of working for an espionage agency and of forging documents. The exact nature of the charges has not been decided.
Brodsky was arrested on June 4 at Warsaw's international airport, where he had hoped to take a flight to Tel Aviv, on the basis of a German arrest warrant. The warrant specified that he was suspected of working for the Mossad and of providing logistical support for the assassination by forging German documents.
Asked yesterday whether the incident would harm his country's ties with Israel, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: "The issue will be handled according to the law, and not according to the interests of our foreign relations."
Brodsky was escorted into court yesterday by masked officers from Poland's antiterror unit carrying machine guns. He pulled the hood of his jacket tightly over his head and covered his face with his hands, hunching slightly as he entered the courtroom.
The German prosecutors, based in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe, declined yesterday to comment on the case directly and said they were waiting until the extradition order went into effect before issuing comments.
"The court has decided to hand over Uri Brodsky to German authorities for judicial procedures there," Calkiewicz said. "The court did not decide whether Brodsky committed the crime for which he is under investigation; the court only checked whether the extradition request fulfills the formal requirements and whether the suspect is correctly identified."
"My client can be handed over to German judicial authorities within the framework of judicial procedures over the following matters: falsification of documents and using false documents," Brodsky's lawyer Krzysztof Stepinski told reporters after the closed-door session. "But the court did not take into consideration the German extradition request over participation in activities for foreign spy services."
Brodsky's attorneys have three days to appeal the extradition. One of his lawyers, Anna Mika-Kopec, said yesterday that no decision had been made yet about an appeal.
Officials refused to comment on the political ramifications of yesterday's ruling, though it appears to be something of a compromise - Poland will extradite him to Germany but has ensured that he will face lesser charges.
Forged passports from the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, France, Australia and Germany were used in the Dubai operation, leading to diplomatic rows between those countries and Israel.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now