Brexit cited as factor to keep British crime suspect detained

Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton). (Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton))

The Amsterdam court of appeal decided not to end the pre-trail custody of a suspect for a remarkable reason. The upcoming Brexit was one of the main reasons the court court said it considered in denying the suspect's request to be released from pre-trial detention, according to a ruling published on Monday.

The suspect is a British citizen, who maintains a residential address in the United Kingdom, the court ruling said. According to the appellate court, the probability that he will flee the country for the UK if he is released is too large. "Given the approaching Brexit, it is unclear whether the suspect will be traceable or available to the Dutch justice system," the court said. The ruling noted that the suspect, who is 18 or 19 years of age, has no residence in The Netherlands.

"We don't agree with this decision," the suspect's attorney, Rachel Bruinen, told NL Times. "No one knows what the situation will be after March 29," she said.

The United Kingdom's departure from the European Union is scheduled for that date, though at this stage there is still no agreement in place on what the relationship between the UK and EU will look like after the Brexit. As such, it is unclear if extradition would even be an option available to The Netherlands should a suspect wanted by Dutch authorities be captured in the United Kingdom.

Bruinen said that point is essentially not relevant to her client's case. "Apart from Brexit, there has to be a real risk of the suspect fleeing to escape trail. Just because my client is a British citizen, does not mean that he will either escape or otherwise be unavailable for trial," she said.

It was not revealed why the suspect was being kept in custody. Bruinen said she will continue to try and secure her client's release, and she will weigh her options in order to fight the decision.

On Monday night British Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU presented an adjusted withdrawal agreement, which includes guarantees that the so-called Irish backstop won't be a permanent measure. The backstop is a safety net meant to ensure that the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland remains open when the UK leaves the EU.

In January the British parliament rejected the first version of this deal because they feared that the backstop would be a permanent measure, forcing the British to stay in a customs union with the EU because of the open border with Ireland. The House of Commons will vote on this adjusted withdrawal agreement on Tuesday evening. If the agreement is rejected, there will be a vote on Wednesday on whether the UK will leave the EU with no deal in place. If that is also rejected, it is likely that an extension for the Brexit will be requested.