Mr. Melloni had been condemned in absentia in Italy to ten years’ imprisonment for the crime of bankruptcy fraud. Throughout the trial, he had been represented by two lawyers of his choice. An EAW for the execution of the sentence was issued and four years later he was detained in Spain. The competent Court decided to execute the EAW, but Mr. Melloni submitted a complaint (amparo) before the Constitutional Court arguing that his surrender would amount to a breach of the right to a fair trial.
The Constitutional Court decided to stay proceedings and make a reference to the CJEU regarding the interpretation and validity of Article 4a(1) of the Framework Decision in light of Charter Articles 47 and 48(2) and the interpretation of Charter Article 53.
The CJEU confirmed the validity of the Framework Decision under Articles 47 and 48(2) of the Charter. The CJEU referred to the ECtHR case law and concluded that the right to appear in person at the trial was not an absolute right and that the accused may waive that right, expressly or tacitly, under certain conditions.
Regarding Charter Article 53, the CJEU acknowledged that state courts may apply national standards of protection of fundamental rights in reviewing national implementing measures, as long as the level of protection provided for by the Charter, and the primacy, unity and effectiveness of EU law are not compromised.
In the resolution of the case, the Constitutional Court referred to the Charter as a hermeneutic criterion for the interpretation of Article 24(2) of the Constitution. Hence, the Charter was not directly enforced, but the Constitutional Court followed the interpretation given by the CJEU to overrule the previous constitutional interpretation of the right to a fair trial.