The legal status of Carles Puigdemont is currently that of a Spanish citizen in full use of all the rights that the Constitution recognizes, without even any judicial action against him. Puigdemont does not have the status of an exile, as he claims, but neither is he a fugitive, as the Supreme Court (TS) claims. Nor does he have the status of “rebel”, because the crimes of which he is accused do not allow a trial in absentia. He has not fled from the action of the Spanish justice, but has been permanently available to it, in the terms in which the judge of the European country ends up deciding on the arrest and surrender order directed by the Supreme Court. . So far, neither the German judge in Schleswig-Holstein nor the Belgian judge have agreed to extradite Puigdemont to be tried in Spain for the crimes of rebellion or sedition. The TS did not accept his extradition to be tried for the crime of embezzlement.
In the last elections to the European Parliament, Carles Puigdemont reached the status of deputy, which he maintains until now, despite the resistance of the Central Electoral Board (JEC) and the TS. Consequently, he has parliamentary immunity throughout the territory of the European Union, although the Supreme Court maintains an arrest warrant against him in Spanish territory in a way that is difficult to understand.
The Supreme Court has urged and obtained from the European Parliament the lifting of parliamentary immunity, but this decision has been appealed by Puigdemont before the General Court of the European Union (TGUE), which has not only admitted it for processing, but has issued the Precautionary measures requested by him in the sense of maintaining his parliamentary immunity until the TGUE does not decide on the merits of the matter. Until a sentence is passed, the Supreme Court will not be able to initiate proceedings against him.
The Investigating Judge Pablo Llarena has submitted a preliminary ruling to the CJEU in order to obtain an interpretation on the compliance by any judicial body of a country of the European Union with an arrest warrant such as the one issued by him.
The legal status of Carles Puigdemont as a Spanish citizen and as a European parliamentarian is, therefore, in the hands of European justice. Until we have the judgments of the TGUE and the CJEU, we will not be able to know if the Supreme Court will be able to prosecute Carles Puigdemont or not, nor for what crimes it will be able to do so.
Simultaneously, the first appeals of those convicted by the Supreme Court for the process have already reached the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The highest judicial bodies of the European Union and the judicial body of the Council of Europe are going to be analyzing different matters, but that are connected to each other.
This has really been going on for a long time. Carles Puigdemont is a European parliamentarian because the Supreme Court submitted a preliminary ruling to the CJEU regarding Oriol Junqueras’ acquisition of the status of European parliamentarian. It was the doctrine established by the CJEU regarding Junqueras that allowed Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí to become European parliamentarians, despite the fact that both the JEC and the Supreme Court tried to prevent it.
How can an eventual judgment by the ECHR of the appeals filed by those convicted of the process affect the legal status of Puigdemont? If the ECHR decided that those convicted by the Supreme Court for the process had been convicted of violating rights recognized in the Constitution and in the European Convention on Human Rights, could the Supreme Court maintain the extradition request against Puigdemont to try him for the same crimes for which he condemned the Catalan nationalists for their conduct in September and October 2017?
Until there is an answer to these questions, it will not be possible to start a political negotiation with the possibility of fruitfulness. Catalan nationalism cannot leave the future of Puigdemont out of the negotiation. And the Government of the nation cannot commit to anything about the legal status of the former president of the Generalitat without justice having said what it has to say.
We are in those.