Tuesday, June 28

The Supreme Court calls on Italy for “measures” to guarantee that Puigdemont does not again evade justice | Spain

Carles Puigdemont, last Saturday, after the Italian justice released him.
Carles Puigdemont, last Saturday, after the Italian justice released him.MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

The arrest of Carles Puigdemont in Sardinia (Italy) has opened a new door to the Supreme Court so as not to have to trust the delivery of the former Catalan president exclusively to the Belgian justice, which until now has put obstacles in the way of executing the Euro-orders against the independence leaders who fled to that country after the unilateral declaration of independence of October 2017. Aware of this opportunity, the instructor of the cause of process In the high court, the magistrate Pablo Llarena, sent a letter to the Italian justice on Thursday in which he assures that, contrary to what was affirmed by the State Attorney, the euro order against Carles Puigdemont is still in force and claims the appeal court from Sassari (Italy) the “immediate delivery” of the expresident. The judge also asks Italy that, if Puigdemont regains his immunity, he adopt “the measures that may be understood as necessary” to guarantee his surrender when he loses protection as an MEP again.

The objective of Llarena is to keep alive in Italy the process of execution of the euro order that began last Friday, after the arrest of Puigdemont in Sardinia, and that is reeling from the doubts generated about the immunity of the ex-president and the alleged suspension of the Euro order issued against him. “There has been knowledge of certain information that denies that the European arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó may be in force,” Llarena begins his letter, in which he opposes the thesis maintained by the State Attorney in the information sent to the General Court of the European Union (TGUE) and that led it to lift the immunity of the former Catalan leader on July 30.

The instructor of the process ensures that the Euroorder has not been suspended due to the raising of a preliminary ruling before the European courts on the interpretation that Belgium was making of the directive that regulates Euroorders. Llarena recalls that, although the EU recommendations to the national courts on preliminary rulings establish that the presentation of a petition such as the one presented in this case implies the suspension of the procedure, the recommendation itself emphasizes that the adoption of precautionary measures is not subject to this mandatory suspension regime, but it will be the national court that decides whether to suspend it or not. And the prison order of the former Catalan president and the European arrest order that were adopted on October 14, 2019 – the day that the Supreme Court convicted Oriol Junqueras and five other members of the Government of Puigdemont – have, according to Llarena, “ an indisputable precautionary nature ”. “They are decisions that serve to ensure that the escapee remains at the disposal of the Justice and a prosecution that – until now – has been prevented by the escape can be addressed,” warns the magistrate.

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Llarena maintains in his letter that he is the only one competent to activate and deactivate the Euroorder and that, as he has not issued any decision to suspend it, the order is still active. And, in his account, he accuses the State Bar of having reported that the euro order was suspended even though he knew it was not. “This situation [que la orden estaba vigente] It would not be unknown to the State Bar, since it is a party to the criminal procedure that is being followed before the Supreme Court ”, says the instructor, who recalls that the high court has never notified the legal services of the Government of the suspension of the euro order, “Nor has the State Bar promoted such a decision to take place.”

Shield delivery

Llarena’s first objective is for Italy to deliver to ex-president, but the instructor leads the way in the event that Puigdemont, as he has announced, asks the European justice to restore his immunity in a precautionary manner. If that happens, Llarena asks Italy not to archive the process, but to put it on hold and, as indicated by the regulations governing Euroorders, adopt “the measures that may be understood as necessary to guarantee that the material conditions necessary to an effective delivery ”when Puigdemont loses its armor again. By virtue of this request, according to judicial sources, Italy could impose the ex-president some control measure compatible with their immunity, such as periodic court appearances.

In Italy this Thursday the letter from Judge Llarena caused surprise, which was interpreted as a measure of pressure given the already preconceived idea that Puigdemont will be released again after declaring the next day 4. Legal sources close to the case indicate that the decision is up to exclusively to the court, but, in any case, it would be strange if the decision adopted were different from the one already outlined, not imposing precautionary measures on the ex-president.

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The interpretation of the judge on duty at the Sassari Court was that the order was suspended and that Puigdemont “still enjoys immunity.” The same court will now meet to make the final decision. However, according to the Italian justice, if Puigdemont did not appear to testify on October 4, the process would be shelved “having no place to proceed as it is outside the territory.” Something that, according to sources close to the case, would make it meaningless to ask for delivery and that normally leads to the defendants never appearing at these hearings. “The Sassari court will have to assess the arrest warrant that comes from Spain, but it would be normal for him to let Puigdemont leave the country until then and to summon him to testify again,” say the sources consulted.

Discomfort in Italy

Puigdemont’s arrest created a lot of discomfort in Italy. The Executive found out through the media what had happened and Mario Draghi himself, the country’s prime minister, explained this Wednesday that he had no contact with the Spanish government. “It was a purely police and justice matter,” he said.

Puigdemont’s defense environment maintains that he will travel on October 4 from Brussels to Sardinia and will make himself available to the judge there, as he already defended this Monday when he returned to the headquarters of the European Parliament in the Belgian capital, reports Guillermo April.

The case against Carles Puigdemont and the other two former Generalitat councilors residing in Belgium and MEPs, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, will be delayed for months in European justice, where there are two pending cases.

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On the one hand, there is the appeal that the three MEPs raised in May before the General Court of the EU (TGUE), after the European Parliament voted in March in favor of lifting their immunity so that the Belgian courts could assess their delivery to Spain . The hearing has not yet been held, but judicial sources estimate that such a case could take up to 17 months.

The uproar around Puigdemont’s immunity has in part to do with this case, as it was as a result of this matter that the TGUE issued an order on July 30 in which it withdrew the precautionary protection that it had been granted. The court understood that Puigdemont was not at risk of being arrested, since the State Attorney assured that the procedure against him ex-president it had been put on hold when Llarena referred a preliminary question to the Court of Justice of the EU.

That, precisely, is the other issue that is pending resolution. Llarena’s request has its origin in the decision of the Brussels Court of Appeals not to hand over to Spain the also exconseller persecuted by the Spanish justice, Lluís Puig. Judicial sources assure that these matters usually last about 15 months on average. Puigdemont’s defense environment maintains that he will travel on October 4 from Brussels to Sardinia and will make himself available to the judge there.


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