Puigdemont’s lawyer: Supreme Court ‘doesn't understand what we are doing, but it will work’

Gonzalo Boye says the former president should continue traveling except to Spain and North Korea

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaks to media alongside his lawyer Gonzalo Boye outside a courtroom in Brussles, October 2019 (by Natàlia Segura)
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaks to media alongside his lawyer Gonzalo Boye outside a courtroom in Brussles, October 2019 (by Natàlia Segura) / Guifré Jordan and Cillian Shields

Guifré Jordan and Cillian Shields | Barcelona

October 9, 2021 11:19 AM

Gonzalo Boye, the lawyer of Carles Puigdemont, is very confident of his legal team’s chances of victory in courts when it comes to Spain’s attempts to extradite the former Catalan president. 

Puigdemont was arrested on the Italian island of Sardinia in late September, with Italian police acting on the arrest warrants put out for him from the Supreme Court in Madrid. 

In the end, magistrates in the Court of Appeals of Sassari freed the Junts per Catalunya president and suspended his extradition case as they wait for word from the European General Court on two decisions they have to make: one on the immunity status of Puigdemont as a Member of the European parliament, and another on the request for clarification the Spanish Supreme Court sent to Europe regarding the arrest warrant for Lluís Puig, another pro-independence leader living in exile. 

Gonzalo Boye feels assured of victory in the legal battles pertaining to Puigdemont’s extradition requests and says that his client will be able to return to Catalonia a lot sooner than anybody thinks. 

Read our interview with the legal professional below. 

Would you recommend your clients, including Puigdemont, to travel? 

As I always say, the best way to defend rights is by exercising them. Freedom of movement is a right of all citizens, so there is no reason why they shouldn’t travel. They should, and if there are problems, we'll solve them as we did in Italy, as we did in Germany, anywhere... There is no reason why they shouldn't travel. 

Is there any country they should not travel to? 

Apart from Spain, we highly recommend our clients not to travel to North Korea. 

How do you think the EU court deliberations will end? 

Well, people should understand that all these processes are within the frame of EU law. On top of that, the EU court will defend the integrity of EU law. A good example of this is what happened with the Constitutional Court in Poland, they refused to apply the EU law. Two days ago, the Constitutional Court in Spain did exactly the same in the case of the Catalan leaders. Why are we surprised if those things also happen in Spain? At the end of the day, the EU court will decide in terms of a decision that can be implemented in the 27 member states, they won't decide something that suits [Supreme Court judges] Pablo Llarena or Manuel Marchena, but all 27 member states.

What timings do you expect of the EU court decisions? 

Taking into consideration there are no similar procedures, no one is doing what Spain is doing, but I think we'll see resolutions in the next 6-7 months. 

Is it more likely that one decision would benefit your clients more than the other? 

The two decisions will benefit EU citizens, that's enough for my clients, we aren't looking for anything abnormal, anything new, we're not asking for any privilege, but what the EU says. Whatever they decide in terms of EU law, it will suit my clients.

Is it likely that the Supreme Court transfers the cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union?

It's important to understand that the European General Court won't decide whether Llarena is competent for the case, but whether Belgian authorities can check if they were the competent authorities, which is slightly different. But at the end of the day, I can't imagine the supreme court backtracking on their decisions.

Is there any underlying problem that makes all the extradition attempts fail? 

Spain is a country that issues a lot of EU arrest warrants and executes a lot of them every year, every week. Why is there a problem only with these? Because of the fact that there is no criminal offense. They aren't acceptable as a criminal offense in any country but as a political situation. Switzerland has said three times ‘we won't execute such an order because it's political’, and [Supreme Court judge] Pablo Llarena hid the document from the defense. 

Are you absolutely certain that they'll never be extradited? 

For this case, of course, I'm sure. We've been working on a very solid basis since 2017, we've shown step by step that there's no reason for that. Now no one can seriously challenge our credibility. 

Are you working on any strategy to enable their return to Catalonia? 

We've been working on that for four years, extradition procedures are nothing more than a tool to create a legal frame for which they can return to Catalonia, as far as Spain remains in the EU. If Spain is away from the EU, if Spain leaves, or would like to be sanctioned for infringement of EU law, then there's no legal frame that can go against that. But if they respect EU law, decisions and institutions, we're right and we can demonstrate that they can return to Catalonia and can work here freely. 

But how would this work? 

The Supreme Court in Spain doesn't understand what we're doing, and we prefer to work that way. But let me tell you - it will work. 

Are you sure they won't spend the rest of their lives abroad? 

What I'm sure of is that if Spain wants to remain in the EU and doesn't want to be heavily sanctioned for not respecting EU decisions and law, then there will be a frame in which they'll be able to return to Catalonia, much sooner than later.