Saturday

21st Apr 2018

Germany's Puigdemont release puts Spanish court in bind

  • Last week, supporters of Puigdemont in Barcelona called for his release in a protest (Photo: Assemblea.cat)

The German ruling not to extradite Catalan ex-president Carles Puigdemont to Spain will have major ramifications for the further course of Spain's legal action against the organisers of the independence referendum.

By deciding that Puigdemont cannot be extradited on the charges of 'rebellion' – and to be released on bail on Friday morning – the German court in the state of Schleswig-Holstein on Thursday (5 April) has effectively intervened in the legal affairs of a fellow EU country.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Puigdemont still can be extradited to Spain under a European arrest warrant, but only on lesser charges of embezzlement – the issue here is whether his government used state funding to organise the referendum, which had been declared illegal beforehand by Spain's highest court.

But Puigdemont is not the only Catalan politician wanted or apprehended by Madrid.

As the Spanish newspaper El Pais pointed out on Friday, the German decision puts Spain's Supreme Court in a bind.

If the court does manage to have Puigdemont extradited to Spain from Germany, it can then only prosecute Puigdemont on the lesser charges.

Moreover, the Supreme Court would find it difficult to argue that other Catalan politicians should be tried for rebellion, if Puigdemont was not.

The newspaper cited an anonymous court source saying that this would be unfair.

"Why should Puigdemont benefit from his escape and the others imprisoned in Spain be charged with not only embezzlement, but also the crime of rebellion?" the source said.

Complaints could also be heard from Madrid about the fact that a German court "equivalent to provincial court" was in charge of the decision – but that is ignoring the fact that unlike Spain, Germany is a federal country, where its 16 states have far-reaching powers.

The Schleswig-Holstein court decided that Puigdemont could not be extradited on the charges of rebellion, because his actions would not be judged similarly in Germany. The German constitution does have the crime of high treason, but because there was no evidence that Puigdemont caused violence, the court argued, this did not apply.

Although the European Union has freedom of movement, much related to legal affairs is still done at the national level – which can lead to conflicting interpretations like in the Puigdemont case.

The Catalan ex-leader fled the Spanish region after the regional parliament declared its independence from Spain, following the referendum marred by police violence but 'won' by the separatists.

Limited flight risk

Several Catalan separatists are facing trial in Spain, while others have left the country in self-imposed exile. Some reside in Scotland, others in Belgium.

On Thursday, Belgian authorities informed three former Catalan ministers - Antoni Comín, Lluís Maria Puig, and Meritxell Serret – of the European arrest warrant against them. They had willingly reported to a court in Brussels for an interrogation, and were released on bail.

Puigdemont meanwhile is expected on Friday morning to be released, if a bail sum of €75,000 is paid. The German court said flight risk was limited after it had decided that extradition on the charges of rebellion had been dismissed.

If the Germans do decide that Puigdemont should be extradited to Spain, he could face up to twelve years in prison over the embezzlement charges.

Catalan separatists mull 'symbolic' presidency

Catalan separatists leaders are discussing a plan that would allow their exiled leader keep influence in the region - even if he cannot be elected president of the government.

Puigdemont ghost hangs over Catalan vote

The Catalan parliament is due to elect the president of the regional government, amid uncertainties over the whereabouts and strategy of the self-exiled separatist leader.

Feature

'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole

Project Safte, an international research project funded by the European Commission, has revealed a loophole in the EU firearms directive that is being exploited by criminals and possibly terrorists.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights