Serena Bowes: Persecuting The Victim With The European Arrest Warrant
IN “Fashion student Serena Bowes faces extradition to Italy after being accused of making up rape story”, the Telegraph reports:
Bowes, who claims she was raped during college trip to Florence, is refusing to return to Italy after being told she could face 12 years in prison for lying
Martin Evans tells the story:
A student who was allegedly raped while on a college trip to Italy, has been told she could be extradited and charged with making the story up. Serena Bowes, 21, was visiting Florence as part of her fashion degree, when she claims she was raped by a man in a nightclub bathroom. She reported the alleged attack to the Italian police and was also examined by a doctor at a hospital in Florence.
But after returning home and attempting to get on with her life, she was astonished to receive a letter from the Italian Police stating that she could be charged falsifying the rape and faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.
You make the claim you have to prove the claim in court? Bowes maintains she’s no liar.
Her college has been supportive:
Carole Kitching, Principal at Newcastle College, said: “21 year-old student, Serena Bowes, told us about a serious assault whilst on a undergraduate College trip to Italy earlier this year. It took place during their free time, and as soon as staff were alerted they contacted the police and accompanied Serena, with the police to the hospital.
“Serena has been offered counselling and we continue to support her through this difficult time. We have met with her family on a number of occasions and have been in contact with her local MP about her case.”
But it might not be enough to keep her out of the courts. The European Arrest Warrant works to move suspects across boarders quickly:
The EAW operates EU-wide and replaced separate extradition arrangements between the EU member states. The EAW was introduced in January 2004, and was prompted by the international anti-terror drive after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.
A national judicial authority, such as a court, can issue an EAW to get a suspect extradited. For an EAW to be valid, the suspect must be accused of an offence incurring a maximum penalty of at least a year in prison, or must have been already sentenced to at least four months in prison.
The EAW means faster and simpler surrender procedures for suspects. EU states can no longer refuse to extradite one of their citizens on grounds of nationality. Extradition no longer requires a political decision for a suspect to be handed over. The EAW means mutual recognition of criminal justice systems in the EU.
Should the UK opt in to the laws?
…the EAW is only one of a package of 35 EU police and crime laws that the Government wants to opt into by December 1…
Of these 35 laws, the EAW is the most controversial for several reasons. On the one hand, there are obvious concerns about handing over British citizens to another EU state without giving that person the right to ask if there is a case against them. On the other hand, the police argues it is vital to protect the public from crime.
If the UK opts in, it will forfeit to the ECJ the ultimate ability to say no to the extradition of its citizens – a step that even states within the US are able to take. Stay out, and we will fall back on previous arrangements that were slower, less reliable and therefore may allow some criminals to escape justice. And yes, the UK Government has made some welcome domestic reforms to how the EAW operates, but time will tell whether these will withstand future ECJ interpretation..
Bowes tells the paper:
“It’s as if I’m telling someone else’s story. I will never go back to Florence because of what happened, never mind going to prison there. If I receive a prison sentence somewhere between four and 12 years my life will be over.”
Do we wonder about the alleged attacker? Are they in limbo? Are they in Italy?
We’re told “no one was charged in relation with the alleged offence”.
So. No crime was recorded. But it seems an allegation remains on file.
A Home Office spokesperson: “As a matter of long standing policy and practice we neither confirm nor deny whether an extradition request has been made or received until such time as an arrest is made in relation to that request.”
It looks a lot like Bowes’ ordeal is not over. But should she have seen the case through? What if her alleged rapist strikes again? Wouldn’t her courage in standing up to her alleged attacker in court be worthwhile?