Lawyer of officials in Brussels ‘hopeful’ extraditions will be rejected
Belgian judge is “democratic” and wants no “abuse” of European arrest warrants, says Paul Bekaert
The lawyer of the three deposed Catalan ministers in Brussels, Paul Bekaert, is “hopeful” that their extradition requests will be rejected by the Belgian judiciary. The lawyer says that the European arrest warrants are provisions to “pursue crimes, not for politics” and judges in Belgium want no “abuse” of such tools. In a debate held in Antwerp on Tuesday evening, Bekaert mentioned that “it is not normal for a country to issue the same European arrest warrant twice.”
The Spanish National Court issued one extradition request last November, but it was withdrawn in December. Yet, the Supreme Court then issued another one in March, which is now being evaluated by the Belgian judiciary. On May 16, deposed ministers Toni Comín, Meritxell Serret and Lluís Puig will be in court to give evidence on this issue.
"It is not normal for a country to issue the same European arrest warrant twice"
Paul Bekaert · Lawyer of deposed Catalan ministers in Brussels
The lawyer said that the current extradition process is harder for the judge to decide on, because the Spanish authorities have sent more material supporting their case than they did in November. Yet, the lawyer also pointed out that there are now more arguments for the defense. For instance, the “abuse” of the European arrest warrant, or the alleged violation of his clients’ human rights are among the new arguments for rejecting the extradition request.
During the event, Bekaert went on to criticize the Spanish justice system for “criminalizing political opponents,” such as the pro-independence leaders. According to the lawyer, the Spanish authorities send politicians to jail instead of promoting debates in Parliament.
The deposed Catalan agriculture minister, Meritxell Serret, also took part in the debate and she expressed a similar view. “The pressure of repression is part of people’s daily life,” Serret said, in reference to people who have been persecuted merely for wearing yellow ribbons. Yellow has become the color for showing solidarity with the jailed leaders. For example, in the Spanish Copa del Rey final, some FC Barcelona supporters reported having yellow t-shirts confiscated.