CATALAN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT

Ousted Catalan premier calls for European arrest order to be dropped

Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile, believes the Supreme Court has an “obligation” to shelve the case against him because he enjoys immunity as an elected MEP

Former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont.
Former Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont.Francisco Seco

Former Catalan premier, Carles Puigdemont, has called on the Spanish Supreme Court to drop the European arrest order against him, and shelve the investigation into his role in the 2017 separatist drive in Catalonia. The call comes after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on December 19 that the leader of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), Oriol Junqueras, became a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) as soon as he was elected, and enjoyed parliamentary immunity from that moment on.

Puigdemont has been living in self-imposed exile in Brussels since 2017

Puigdemont was also elected as an MEP at the May 20 election, and his legal team believe the ousted premier has a right not only to take his seat in the European Parliament, but to do so without the limitations imposed by the arrest warrant from the Supreme Court.

Puigdemont, of the Together for Catalonia party, fled Spain to avoid arrest in the wake of the 2017 secessionist drive in Catalonia, which saw an illegal referendum on independence followed by a unilateral declaration of independence passed by the regional government. He has been living in self-imposed exile in Brussels ever since, despite attempts by Spain to see him extradited back to his home country to face trial for his role in the events of that year.

The Supreme Court reactivated the European and international arrest warrants against Puigdemont after sentencing 12 Catalan separatist leaders – including Junqueras – for their role in the 2017 breakaway attempt.

In a 63-page document, Puigdemont’s lawyer Gonzalo Boye asked Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena on Thursday to “immediately shelve” the case open against the separatist leader, arguing he enjoys immunity as an elected MEP.

But Spain’s public prosecutor has asked to continue to the precautionary measures against Puigdemont – a decision that is, according to Boyle, “not only extravagant, it is crude, glaringly and clearly illegal.”

Puigdemont’s legal team have also called for Llarena to be taken off the case for “impartiality.” If the judge does not voluntarily remove himself, Puigdemont will ask the Supreme Court to excuse him.

English version by Melissa Kitson.