Interpol’s recent arrest warrants for five former VW executives
International arrest warrants have been issued for five former VW officials for their alleged participation in the diesel emissions scandal that erupted in mainstream media in September 2015.
An Interpol “red notice” is usually filed by the U.S. Justice Department where they’re requesting to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition. The Interpol can’t compel any member country to arrest an individual who is subject to the notice, and it’s for each country to decide what legal value they give to an Interpol notice; e.g., whether or not to arrest the individual or impose an equivalent punishment in their own jurisdiction.
Though Interpol is the international police that issues the notice, the individuals are usually wanted by a country or an international tribunal.
Will Germany extradite?
It’s believed that Germany – home of the cheating former executive board members – won’t allow extradition of the former executives to the U.S. The Interpol notice calls for all member states who are a part of the Interpol treaty to arrest suspects and extradite them to the U.S.
As it currently stands, the former board members reportedly cannot be tried in the U.S. as it’s against the German constitution to extradite its citizens to foreign countries. The constitution states that German citizens can only be extradited to other EU countries or to an international court as they can be reasonably protected that way. However, as an unwritten rule, Germany reportedly doesn’t extradite citizens as a matter of principle. If Interpol member states arrest these individuals, they may face trial and could end up with very lengthy prison sentences if they’re convicted and charged.
The former executives stand accused of allegedly committing fraud with the intent of violating U.S. environmental laws and their consumers alike.
Though Germany may not ‘hand-over’ their citizens, this’ll make the former-executives’ lives that much harder as leaving their country to go to another may mean an immediate arrest, as most countries who are member states to Interpol will usually abide by Interpol warrants/notices.
U.S. vs Germany’s prison sentencing
According to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, part of Germany’s reason not to extradite their citizens is because they know they would face extremely high prison sentences if they’re found guilty when compared to Germany’s more lenient sentencing standards.
Stricter sentencing standards in the U.S. are exemplified by former U.S. manager, Oliver Schmidt, who was charged with conspiracy and other crimes as part of the German manufacturer’s scheme to sell around 600,000 vehicles that fell outside of regulated pollution limits in America. If found guilty, Mr Schmdit could face up to 20 years in prison. A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Reportedly, it would be in the best interests of consumers worldwide and the U.S. government to bring the former managers to trial in the U.S. According to reports, at least two of them were “confidants” to former chief executive, Martin Winterkorn. This may shed light on the mechanisms of the cheating scandal; from developing the software to installing the device that deceived millions around the world.
Mr Winterkorn resigned on 23rd September 2015 and to this day he protests his innocence, stating he didn’t have a clue about what was going on.
Justice needs to be served
If the Interpol arrest warrants are successful, this may mark another important step towards justice for consumers.
Though it’s unlikely that Germany will extradite, other Interpol member states may recognise the importance of arresting those VW executives if they ever travel abroad…
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