The arrest of Luka Rocco Magnotta in Berlin on Monday marks the end of an international manhunt, but it now sets off a legal process that could extend for months before the suspect in a gruesome Montreal killing is returned to Canada.
Canada has a bilateral extradition treaty with Germany, although Germany does not extradite its own nationals, and the treaty includes death penalty provisions.
CBC News spoke with Daniel Brown, a Toronto criminal lawyer, about the extradition process and how it could unfold in the Magnotta case.
How does the extradition process work?
Every extradition treaty is a little bit different, but generally, they all say the same thing, which is that the parties will work together to ensure that people are brought back to justice or to serve sentences where they have skipped out on sentence or to stand trial where there's a warrant for their arrest.
In this particular case, the requesting party would be Canada. They would send a request for extradition to Germany and once Germany was in possession of that, the process would begin in Germany to extradite the case back to Canada.
Essentially all Canada has to show is that there is reasonable grounds to believe, or there is I guess what we call a case to meet for Luka Magnotta to stand trial in Canada for a crime that would be a crime both in Germany and Canada and one where there wouldn't be any type of capital punishment issued.
So if [Magnotta] could receive the death penalty in Canada, Germany might not agree to send him back. Of course, there is no death penalty in Canada, so there's no reason not to send him back to Canada to fulfil that request.
He could, though, fight extradition, or consent to extradition in Germany and go through a process, but I think ultimately at the end of the day, Canada will have no difficulty securing … him back into their possession, so to speak.
What sort of time frame is there for a process like this?
First, Canada has to prepare a brief that they provide to Germany to justify extradition. If there's a case as far as Germany's concerned, they'll issue what's called a provisional warrant of committal to send him back to Canada, and then he has an opportunity to go through the court process.
I mean, it could, if he wanted to delay the proceedings, it could take as much as a year or more….
There was a fairly famous case in Canada where [Karlheinz] Schreiber was being extradited back, I believe it might have even been to Germany. We saw that that case took many years to go through the court system, because he exhausted every avenue available to him, not only of extradition hearings but appeals that followed those hearings.
Justice may be delayed but it won't be denied. You have to have the resources to be able to sustain those types of appeals and things of that nature. Mr. Schreiber certainly had that available to him. I'm not sure Mr. Magnotta does.
If there isn't an attempt by Magnotta to delay extradition, how long might it take to return him to Canada?
I would think probably months rather than any time sooner. Germany can't simply put him on a plane and send him over here. Even consenting to extradition will still take some time because the police will have to put together an application that even if he consents to it, will still take probably over a month before he's back in Canada, I would assume.
Do you have any other insights into how the extradition process unfolds?
Not in a case like this. I think this is going to be a very straightforward request. One of the things that sometimes occurs in these types of cases is that the lawyers may argue that there's not a sufficient basis to believe the person was involved in the crime and that's a reason to deny extradition, that there's not sufficient basis or sufficient evidence to support it.
I think in this particular case there is overwhelming evidence, the whole thing was videotaped and if nothing else I think they'll have no difficulty establishing that there's an evidentiary foundation to warrant extradition and bring him back and then it becomes only a matter of time before that actually takes place.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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