Judge in charge of independence case “not objective,” says Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer
Paul Bekaert believes that the Catalan deposed president “has to stay in Belgium until Madrid is reasonable”
Carles Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer, Paul Bekaert, has questioned the objectivity of the Spanish judge in charge of the independence case. According to him, a “political judgement” can be read in the last Spanish Supreme Court judge’s decree of January 22. “If a judge cannot put his own political opinions aside”, he said, “he is independent but not objective.”
In an interview with the Catalan News Agency, he accused the Spanish Supreme Court judge in charge of the independence case of leading a “political trial,” especially after January 22, when the magistrate rejected reissuing an European arrest warrant against Puigdemont earlier this week saying the Catalan deposed president wanted to be arrested. “You normally consider arresting someone with legal reasons, not of political strategy,” he said.
The Spanish judge argued that Puigdemont was seeking to be behind bars because it would be easier for him to ask for a delegated vote in the Catalan chamber or place a bid to become president again from jail than from Brussels. Indeed, the parliamentary debate to pick a new Catalan leader is to be held next Tuesday at 3pm. Puigdemont is the only candidate for the post, but it is still unclear whether he will try to be sworn in at a distance or turning up in the chamber. If he does return, he will risk being arrested and jailed.
"In a democracy the elected people can go to the Parliament"
Paul Bekaert · Carles Puigdemont's judge in Belgium
Puigdemont "has to stay" in Begium until Madrid becomes "reasonable"
Facing this dilemma, Bekaert said that “he has to stay here [in Belgium] until Madrid becomes reasonable.” He added that Puigdemont “cannot be in prison as president because he cannot work as president from prison, it’s impossible.” Puigdemont’s lawyer in the EU capital also explained that his client hopes that his arrest warrant in Spain is withdrawn, as it was the European one.
Bekaert also had his say on the recent attempt by the Spanish government to stop his candidacy for president. Mariano Rajoy’s vice president said on Thursday that Puigdemont has not got “all” the rights, such as “ambulatory freedom”, and thus, the Catalan Parliament president cannot nominate him as candidate for the top post in the country. “He has not been condemned, he is prosecuted and as long as he is prosecuted and not condemned, he is innocent. There is no legal base to refuse his investiture as president,” said Bekaert.
"He has the possibility to speak to the Parliament"
“He has the possibility to speak to the Parliament, he has been elected, he is candidate, this is a democracy, and in a democracy the elected people can go to the Parliament,” added the lawyer, who also said that Puigdemont is not obliged to go to Spain and is not breaching law because there is no European arrest warrant against him.