Europe-wide arrest warrant meets substantial increase in use

The number of European arrest warrants has constantly increased since they were introduced, EU official said. Existing 7000 of them are to speed up the pursuit of terror or organized crime suspects across the EU.

The 6,900 EU arrest warrants led to 1,800 arrests, EU spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said.

Under the EU warrant procedure, member nations are supposed to extradite their own citizens to other EU nations if a warrant is issued on suspicion of serious crimes, something which many previously were reluctant to do.

The numbers for 2005 were almost double as those issued in 2004, and the numbers are expected to increase since all 27 EU nations now have laws in place to use the EU warrant.

"We have seen a growing importance of this and a growing use of this important tool by prosecutors," Roscam Abbing said.

He added that of those extradited between EU nations under the warrant, 95 percent were transferred within 90 days, much faster than the average 18 months before the European arrest warrant was introduced.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova