The legal imbroglio around Vincenzo Vecchi is not nearly over. The Court of Cassation on Tuesday censured the decision of the Angers Court of Appeal refusing the extradition of this Italian anti-globalization activist. Vincenzo Vecchi, 52, was sentenced in his country to a heavy prison sentence, on the basis of a Mussolini law, for having participated in the violent demonstrations against the G8, in Genoa, in 2001. He has been a refugee in France since ten years.
In November 2020, the Angers Court of Appeal, like that of Rennes before it, refused to execute the European arrest warrant issued by Rome, on the grounds that the main sentence to which Vincenzo Vecchi was sentenced, ten years in prison for “devastation and plunder”, had no equivalent in France. But the highest French court considers in particular that it “It is not necessary that each of the acts in which this Italian national has committed and which lead his country to condemn him for ‘devastation and pillage’ correspond to an offense under French law.” In other words: according to her, the refusal to extradite Vincenzo Vecchi to Italy does not hold. “Decidedly, the relentlessness continuesreacted in the wake of its very active support committee in a press release. We believe that such a decision comes to ‘cap’ our Constitution and flouts fundamental rights.
Since the activist’s arrest in Brittany, the “devastation and looting” offense has focused criticism of his defense and his supporters. Introduced into the Italian Penal Code under Mussolini, it makes it possible to punish from eight to fifteen years of imprisonment for “complicity” participation in a major disturbance to public order by a simple «concours moral». The Court of Cassation, hearing an appeal from the Attorney General of Angers after the refusal to surrender Vincenzo Vecchi to the Italian authorities, had requested the interpretation of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the condition of the dual criminality.
In its July ruling, the CJEU held that there was no requirement to “perfect match” between the offenses in the Member State issuing the arrest warrant and in the executing Member State, and that France could not therefore oppose the surrender of Vincenzo Vecchi to Italy. “The interpretation given by the CJEU to a rule resulting from European Union law is binding on the courts of the Member States of the EU”, recalls the Court of Cassation in a press release. As a result, the highest court of the French judiciary quashed the decision of the Angers Court of Appeal and returned the investigation of the case to the Lyon Court of Appeal.