The ANC summons members outside Spain’s consulates in Europe today under the motto “Spanish courts, the shame of Europe. Free the Catalan political prisoners!”
The Schleswig-Holstein court has decided today to process the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to extradite Carles Puigdemont on charges of misuse of public funds. In contrast, charges of rebellion and sedition have ended up being discarded, since the court has considered that violence in the events for which his extradition was requested cannot be proved, and because the crime of sedition is not contemplated in the German criminal code. Moreover, the Court has granted President Puigdemont provisional freedom while the possible appeals by his defence counsel and the German Public Prosecutor’s Office are resolved.
For this reason, the ANC’s Foreign Assemblies have convened demonstrations today, in front of the main Spanish Consulates, under the motto: “Spanish Justice, the shame of Europe. Free the Catalan political prisoners!” In Catalonia, the demonstration to be held on Saturday at 7 p.m. with the slogan “Neither prison nor exile. We want you home” takes on a new meaning. It has to become an outcry for freedom and the dropping of charges.
Although crimes of rebellion and sedition have been ruled out, Schleswig-Holstein’s court has considered that there might be embezzlement. It must be remembered that while Judge Llarena and the Guardia Civil consider that the referendum on October 1 was paid out of public resources, the until-recently finance minister, Cristóbal Montoro, has publicly recognized several times that not a single euro was spent to fund it.
This decision, together with the decision taken in May by the Belgian courts to reject the EAW, delivers a sharp blow to Judge Llarena and the Spanish courts, since despite the extradition, it calls into question the whole investigation made from Madrid and it makes it clear that there has been no crime of rebellion or sedition. It must be remembered that the penalty for embezzlement can be 2 to 6 years in prison, much less than the 15 or 30 years for the crimes of sedition and rebellion respectively. In a few days, the resolution of the Scottish courts, which have yet to decide on whether or not to extradite Clara Ponsatí, will also be made known. Nevertheless, Ponsatí has not been in preventive prison either, which again reveals the bias and unjustified harshness of the Spanish courts, that not only accuse the nine Catalan political prisoners of crimes that neither Germany nor Belgium contemplate, but are the only ones in the four European courts that are keeping them behind bars in preventive detention.
For a crime (rebellion) that according to German justice is non-existent, there have been nine political and social leaders in prison for months and six Members of Parliament are under threat of suspension, thus perverting the December 21 election. We demand that prisoners be released immediately and the charges dropped.
Judge Llarena’s investigation also clashes head-on with the declarations and statements that international bodies and organizations have made about pre-trial imprisonment. Thus both Amnesty International and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have decried the regression of human rights in Spain and have called for a dialogue to resolve what is a political conflict.
A complex process that could drag out for 6 to 9 months
Carles Puigdemont was arrested on March 25 in Schleswig-Holstein thanks to the EAW that Judge Llarena had reactivated days before, putting Germany and Europe at the centre of the political debate of the conflict that Catalonia is suffering. The long process has begun its resolution today with a resounding decision: neither rebellion nor sedition, in the same vein as the Belgian courts.
Although the judge has decided to extradite him on charges of misuse of public funds, he has not considered it necessary to lay down preventive detention, so that, again in contrast to Spain’s courts, he will be able to remain free in Germany until the resolution of the appeals that the prosecutor’s office and/or Puigdemont’s defence lawyers may choose to submit in order to appeal the decision, first before the Federal court, and later before the German Constitutional Court. This process could drag out for between 6 and 9 months.