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Spanish judges consider taking Puigdemont ruling to EU court

Supreme Court could challenge German decision not to extradite deposed president for rebellion

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06 April 2018 06:40 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Spain’s Supreme Court could request a preliminary ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on whether the German court that released Carles Puigdemont on bail correctly interpreted the European Arrest Warrant issued for the deposed Catalan president. Should the Supreme Court request the ruling, Puigdemont’s extradition would be immediately frozen until the issue is resolved, something that could take up to 16 months.

On Thursday, the Schleswig court decided to reject extraditing Puigdemont for the crime of rebellion, which does not exist in German law, while the equivalent of high treason requires an element of violence in the case. If Puigdemont is extradited for misuse of public funds only, then the Spanish courts cannot try him for rebellion. The option of appealing to the CJEU might be the only way that the Supreme Court can maintain the charge of rebellion.

Requesting a preliminary ruling is a legal procedure for the courts of member states to question the interpretation or validity of an EU law. In this case, if the Supreme Court decides to make a request, it will question whether the German court correctly processed the European Arrest Warrant against Puigdemont, and whether the court overstepped its authority. If that were found to be the case, the extradition process would be reconsidered.

Appealing to the CJEU would also affect the other European Arrest Warrants issued for the Catalan officials currently residing outside Spain. Puigdemont’s former ministers Antoni Comín, Meritxell Serret and Lluís Puig are in Belgium awaiting a decision on their extradition, while former MPs Marta Rovira and Anna Gabriel have sought refuge in Switzerland, which has stated it will not extradite them for political offenses. Meanwhile, former education minister, Clara Ponsatí, is fighting her extradition from Scotland.

At the same time, Germany’s attorney general is also looking into whether the German court exceeded its authority in Puigdemont’s case. The German prosecutor originally called for Puigdemont to be held in custody while being extradited for high treason (the nearest equivalent in German law to rebellion) and misuse of public funds.

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  • The Spanish Supreme Court on January 30, 2018 (by Javier Barbancho)

  • The Spanish Supreme Court on January 30, 2018 (by Javier Barbancho)