The Spanish Supreme Court judge, Pablo Llarena, decided yesterday not to accept the extradition of the exiled Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and to withdraw the European Arrest Warrants (EAW) he had issued not only against him, but also against Toni Comín, Lluís Puig, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsatí, as well as the extradition request for the ERC Secretary General, Marta Rovira. This means he has made a partisan use of the EAWs, which the judge has withdrawn when he didn’t like the courts’ decisions. It should be recalled that, last week, the Schleswig-Holstein High Court ruled out the crimes of rebellion and sedition in president Puigdemont’s case and only proposed to deliver him on a charge of misuse of public funds.
With this decision, judge Llarena has been fully exposed, and he finds himself in an unprecedented contradiction: there are seven Catalan politicians in exile, five of whom were members of the Catalan Government on October 1 2017, that can move freely around Europe, but cannot set foot in Spain without being detained, while in Spain there are nine political hostages, accused of serious but non-existent crimes such as rebellion – that the Belgian and German courts have ruled out –, and who have been in preventive detention for months and without a trial having been held.
The Spanish courts are making an unprecedented misuse of the EAW mechanism, which entails a mutual recognition of the legal systems of the member States of the European Union. These withdrawals show that legal instruments are being politically manipulated, that the Spanish courts do not recognize their European equivalent – in moving away from the principles underlying the European Union -, and that they don’t mind discrediting Spain’s institutions when the goal is to put an end to as peaceful and democratic a political movement as is that of Catalan independence.
We call for the release of the political hostages, the return of those in exile and the dismissal of the case. At the same time, after these international court victories, we urge the parliamentary majority and the Government of the Generalitat to establish a coherent strategy to resume the path to independence, as this is the only option to achieve the Catalan Republic, the freedom of the hostages and the return of those in exile; we likewise call for the Council of the Republic to be activated and set up, now this is possible.