Spain drops European arrest warrant for sacked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

Express News

By AFP|Released: 06th December 2017

Catalonia’s separatist leader Carles Puigdemont

MADRID: Spain dropped its European arrest warrant on Tuesday for Catalonia’s sacked leader Carles Puigdemont and 4 of his deputies who got away to Belgium, however will jail the separatists if they return, the country’s leading court stated.

In a surprise relocation, Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena withdrew the warrant as the 5 “appear to have actually revealed their intent to go back to Spain” to participate in the snap local surveys on December 21.

Madrid called the election after Catalan legislators stated self-reliance in October, giving a head Spain’s worst political crisis in years.

The judge has actually maintained the Spanish arrest warrant, which implies they will be apprehended upon arrival in the nation, the court stated.

Paul Bekaert, among the deposed Catalan president’s attorneys, informed Belgium’s L’Echo daily he would “not leave Belgium.”

The judge stated the European warrant would make complex the total probe into the area’s leaders.

A few of them are still in Spain– either in prison or out on bail– and all are dealing with charges of disobedience, sedition and abuse of public funds.

He stated Belgium might decline a few of the charges in the warrant, implying it might consent to the extradition of Puigdemont and the 4 others– however with limitations, and just for specific offenses.

This in turn would stop Spain from prosecuting the limited offenses, thus developing inequalities with those currently kept in Spain who would be penetrated on the complete charges, Llarena argued.

It is uncertain exactly what charges would have postured an issue, however there has actually been debate in Spain over the offense of disobedience, which brings as much as 30 years in prison and has actually been criticised as “out of proportion” by some critics in the legal world.

Belgian district attorneys stated a judge would now formally end the extradition procedures.

– Electioneering –

The unforeseen choice comes a day after Puigdemont and his 4 coworkers participated in an extradition hearing in Brussels, with the Belgian judge due to provide a choice on December 14.

Jaume Alonso Cuevillas, among Puigdemont’s attorneys, informed Catalonia’s TV3 channel he was happily amazed.

” This suggests the other day’s hearing went better than we believed. It pressed Spain’s judicial authorities to withdraw the European warrant to prevent getting a slap from Belgian judicial authorities,” he stated.

” The genuine factor is the worry the extradition would be declined due to the fact that a reasonable trial is not ensured.”

The choice likewise follows the Catalan election project began, with Puigdemont speaking with fans in Catalonia on Monday night through video link.

The Madrid authorities “wish to raise as lots of troubles as possible so we cannot project on an equivalent footing with the other prospects,” he informed a party rally in Barcelona.

Madrid called the brand-new elections after the self-reliance statement on October 27, while dismissing Catalonia’s federal government and suspending the area’s autonomy. It hopes the surveys will bring back normality to the area.

Twelve of the 13 members of the sacked Catalan federal government are standing in the election, with Puigdemont and his deputy Oriol Junqueras– who is still in prison– completing to head the separatist camp.

– A home divided –

In the last local election in 2015, separatist celebrations caught 47.8 percent of the vote, providing an outright bulk of 72 seats in the 135-seat Catalan local parliament.

A survey released Monday by the main federal government’s Sociological Research Centre (CIS) forecasted the 3 pro-independence celebrations would get 44.4 percent of the vote and 66 to 67 seats this time– simply except the outright bulk of 68.

The 3 celebrations strongly opposed to self-reliance would get 44.3 percent and gain 59 to 60 seats, the survey recommended.

While the separatists are unified versus exactly what they state is “repression” from Madrid, they are divided over the future of their area, which itself is deeply divided over self-reliance.

Puigdemont’s PDeCAT party and Junqueras’ ERC worked on a joint list 2 years ago however are running individually this time around.