Spain questions whether Belgium can try judge in charge of independence case
Lawsuit by exiled Catalan leaders against Pablo Llarena will be assessed by three judges but process might not start for six months
Spain believes Belgium may not have the authority to try a Spanish judge, leading the Supreme Court judge's defense to ask a Brussels court to decide whether it can go ahead with the case open there.
Catalan exiled leaders, led by former president Carles Puigdemont, filed a lawsuit before Belgian authorities against judge Pablo Llarena, over doubts about their chance of getting a "fair trial" and their "presumption of innocence."
The next step now is for the court to rule on the defense's request that it decide whether it is competent to try judge Llarena. Both sides will have their written say and a decision on the matter might take "six weeks," according to the defense.
Yet the lawyers of the Catalan politicians believe the decision might take longer in coming.
"Spain today defends the immunity of the jurisdiction of its courts and judges before the Belgian justice system"
Hakim Boularbah · Judge Llarena's lawyer
If the Belgian court decides it does have the authority to try Llarena, their assessment of the case might not start until 2019, in around six months.
"Spain today defends the immunity of the jurisdiction of its courts and judges before the Belgian justice system," said Llarena's lawyer, Hakim Boularbah.
Yet one of the lawyers representing the pro-independence officials, Gonzalo Boye, claims that the lawsuit is not against "a Supreme Court judge, but a man called Pablo Llarena, who made private statements" affecting his work as a judge.
According to the lawsuit, Llarena made statements casting doubt on his work as the judge investigating the judicial case involving 25 Catalan leaders –nine of which are behind bars.
The statements were also the source of another controversy, as the exiled leaders' defense admitted there was a mistake in the translation of Llarena's words to French.