Wednesday, July 6

The return of Puigdemont, a question that pardons do not solve

Happy for the prisoners and their families, but without changes in their situation. This is how the former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont defined his feelings about the pardon granted by the Government to the nine convicted of sedition. The grace measure neither accelerates nor slows the return of the Junts leader and the other four independence leaders who remain in Belgium and Switzerland, a scenario for which several unknowns still have to be cleared.

More than 60 former leaders and senior government officials, pending trial and fines even if the prisoners are pardoned

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Puigdemont’s judicial folder is far from closed and will be played in European instances, following the bet of the former president since he left Spain in October 2017 after the failed Unilateral Declaration of Independence (DUI). The main victories of Puigdemont have come from the German and Belgian courts, which has politically capitalized on those triumphs by presenting the foreign strategy as the only one capable of resisting the judicial actions that in Spain ended with the prison of his former colleagues from the Government.

The granting of pardons and the commitment to dialogue between the Generalitat and the Government breaks the image of an inflexible Executive that referred the entire Catalan dispute to the courts, a message that the independence movement insisted on transmitting abroad during Mariano Rajoy’s stage in La Moncloa. Despite the new situation, the former president continues to be the main battering ram in the international complaint of the Catalan case. And it has material for it even though there are no longer prisoners: dozens of senior officials are still pending trials and the international repercussion of the procedure before the Court of Auditors, which has meant that 33 Nobel Laureates in Economics support former minister Andreu Mas-Colell, one of the the thirty exalted positions – among them Puigdemont himself – who face millionaire fines and the seizure of their assets.

“Perhaps now the rush of Pedro Sánchez to come and sell us smoke with outdated rhetoric is better understood. The reunion, yes: Spain has to reconnect with the European democracies and has to abandon the Turkish drift,” the former president tweeted on Monday. of the resolution of the Assembly of the Council of Europe that called for the release of those sentenced by 1-O, reform the sedition and withdraw the Euro-orders. A comparison with Turkey that the president, Pere Aragonès, has avoided making, who in a different tone from Puigdemont has insisted that the Council of Europe report is “oxygen” for negotiation between executives.

After their resounding failures in the Belgian and German courts, the Supreme Court magistrate Pablo Llarena played the last card to extradite Puigdemont and the former councilors and MEPs Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí with a battery of preliminary questions before the Court of Justice of the Union European (CJEU). For the defense of the independence leaders, the Llarena movement is nothing more than an attempt for the CJEU to amend the plan to the Belgian courts that denied the extradition of ex-minister Lluís Puig (his case was examined before that of Puigdemont as it was not MEP) in a forceful resolution that dismantled the foundations of the cause of the process of the Supreme Court and anticipated a rejection of the delivery of the former president.

The CJEU will still take months to respond to the questions raised by Judge Llarena last March. Depending on the response given by the CJEU, the Supreme Court will withdraw, maintain or issue a new extradition request, as Magistrate Llarena wrote. Meanwhile, Puigdemont has provisionally recovered the immunity revoked by the European Parliament, but he cannot return to Spain as the national arrest warrant against him is still in force.

It will therefore be the European judicial tempos that mark a faster or slower return of the expresident. From politics, the return could only be accelerated with an amnesty law that calls for the independence movement but that is of difficult legal framework and impossible parliamentary viability due to the rejection of the PSOE. The intermediate way that the Government is proposing is a reform of the crime of sedition still in the making that lowers the penalties to accommodate the countries around us. The Executive does not propose a repeal of the crime of sedition, as the ‘comuns’ and the independentistas would like.

The internal discrepancies in the central Executive were revealed a week ago, when Minister Ione Belarra, from United We Can, defended Puigdemont’s return to Spain, to which the Government spokeswoman, María Jesús Montero, remarked that “the The interest of the Government is that Puigdemont can be brought to Spain and can be tried, as he has always said. ” For his part, the expresident has insisted on several occasions that his return is only considered as a “free” man, not to sit on the bench of the Supreme Court.

Even if the penalties for sedition are lightened – today it is punishable by up to 15 years in prison – the obstacle of embezzlement would remain, a crime for which both Puigdemont and Comín (although not Ponsatí) are also claimed and which is punishable by up to eight years in prison. Nor are the two pro-independence leaders who remain in Switzerland claimed for this crime: the ERC general secretary, Marta Rovira, and the former CUP deputy, Anna Gabriel, whose return to Catalonia is not expected immediately although the Swiss country has not shown any wanting to extradite.