Spanish prosecutor demands arrest of Puigdemont in Switzerland
The authority asks Rajoy’s government to work together with Interpol and the Swiss authorities to detain three pro-independence leaders
Spain’s attorney general is seeking the arrest of Carles Puigdemont in Switzerland, where the deposed Catalan president will travel on Sunday. The prosecutor urged the Spanish government to take action and ask the Swiss authorities to arrest Puigdemont through Interpol.
The move would also affect Meritxell Serret, a deposed minister who accompanied Puigdemont to Belgium and who will also travel to Geneva, as well as a former MP staying in Switzerland, Anna Gabriel. The prosecutor will also ask Spain’s Supreme Court, which is in charge of the case against independence leaders, to revoke their passports.
There are currently six Catalan leaders seeking refuge from the Spanish judiciary abroad. In total, 28 people face criminal charges for their role in implementing the political roadmap that led to a declaration of independence last October. Another four have been held behind bars for almost five months.
In December, the Supreme Court withdrew a European Arrest Warrant for Puigdemont and the ministers in Brussels over concerns that the Belgian justice system might interfere with the ongoing judicial process in Spain.
"If an extradition order is issued, our intention is to respond by putting a mirror in front of the State, its judicial system, the government, thus evidencing that we're being persecuted for strictly political acts"
Anna Gabriel · CUP former MP
Puigdemont landed in Brussels last October, just a few days after the Spanish government dismissed his cabinet and imposed direct rule in Catalonia following a declaration of independence. Puigdemont claimed that he did not trust the Spanish judiciary to give him a fair trial.
When Gabriel went to Geneva a month ago, the Supreme Court decided not to issue an international arrest warrant, thus temporarily holding off from starting an extradition process whose success was far from assured.
A spokesperson for the Swiss government said that the country would not extradite Gabriel or provide any legal assistance if the offenses for which she would be prosecuted were deemed political. He added that this was exactly what media reports suggested.
"If an extradition order is issued, our intention is to respond by holding up a mirror to the State, its judicial system, the government, thus showing that we're being persecuted for strictly political acts," said Gabriel in an interview with Catalonia's public TV in February. "It's obvious that there was not a violent rebellion, and the criminal charges we face have no basis."