A man citing medical problems to avoid facing trial in Germany over an alleged multi-million fraud, was ordered back on a stretcher by a Magistrates’ Court, rejecting his extradition challenge. 

Maximillian Vogt was targeted by a European Arrest Warrant issued by a Landgericht regional court in Berlin, dated January 31, 2020, followed shortly by an alert on the Schengen Information System. 

Vogt was due to face trial last October over his alleged involvement as accomplice, later referred to as “quasi the principal offender”, with a certain Dr Bente in a €23.1 million fraud (including costs and interests) to the detriment of a society of architects. 

Vogt had failed to appear at the trial, although he was aware of the proceedings since he had instructed his lawyer to appear in his stead and to file claims on his behalf, even on the strength of a power of attorney. 

He had also objected to the presence of one of the judges, indicating “an active participation” in the proceedings. 

Yet, he repeatedly failed to appear before the German courts, filing a complaint whereby he asked to be excused “due to an intervertebral disc problem that rendered him unable to stand trial and to travel”.

Given that trials in absentia were not possible under German law, the judicial authorities in Germany requested Vogt’s extradition, claiming that he was “on the run and evaded the legal proceedings”.

Before the Maltese courts, Vogt’s lawyer called for a neurosurgeon to examine his client so as to attest whether the man could make the trip outside Malta. 

The court, presided over by magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, appointed two medical specialists who came back with a joint report stating that there was “no contraindication for Vogt being able to travel to Germany. In view of the fact that he does not tolerate sitting down, he should be given the opportunity to travel as a stretcher case”.

When testifying in court, one of the doctors observed further that there was “malingering” and “exaggeration” on the patient’s part.

In the light of such evidence and after confirming that all legal and factual requisites were satisfied, the court concluded there were no “substantial grounds for believing that the surrender would manifestly endanger the requested person’s life or health”.

The court remanded Vogt in custody pending his transfer to Germany “as a stretcher case”, unless he chose otherwise, and subject to his right to appeal.

Inspector Mark Galea prosecuted. 

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