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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ireland should refuse to extradite a Polish national sought by a European arrest warrant if it concludes that the lack of independence of Polish courts would compromise the suspect's right to a fair trial in Poland, the European Union's top court ruled on Wednesday.

The landmark ruling in a case brought to the European Court of Justice by an Irish court asked to extradite a Pole wanted for drugs trafficking highlights how sweeping court changes carried out by the ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) have damaged Poland's reputation among its EU peers.

"A judicial authority called upon to execute a European arrest warrant must refrain from giving effect to it if it considers that there is a real risk that the individual concerned would suffer a breach of his fundamental right to an independent tribunal and, therefore, of the essence of his fundamental right to a fair trial on account of deficiencies liable to affect the independence of the judiciary in the issuing Member State," the European Court of Justice said.

(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)

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