Catalonia’s Puigdemont A “No Show” In Court Of Madrid
For the past few weeks, Spain faced a constitutional crisis as the Catalonian government threatened to break free from the Spanish monarchy to establish its own independence. It can be remembered that Catalan President Carles Puigdemont made a statement via televised speech claiming the Catalan’s state of independence from Spain. He also threatened the Spanish government that any attempt at suspending the state’s regional autonomy and control would result in serious ramifications that would worsen the tension between the two constitutions.
King Felipe Slam Puigdemont Declaration in a Televised Speech
King Felipe couldn’t help but comment the Catalan President’s declaration as bold and irresponsible act. The Catalan’s declaration would bring nothing but chaos and confusion to the country. He also reiterated that under the constitution, his crown and monarchy symbolizes the country’s sovereignty, unity, and peace. He urged the Spanish citizens, and even the Catalan government to unite in times of hardship and he also assured the people that the country is listening to its citizens.
However, the President of Catalan government didn’t comment about the King’s announcement and he also didn’t respond to the summon of the High Court of Madrid. The reason behind his silence is because he traveled to Brussels in his ambition to pursue the state’s changes.
The National Court Summon the President as well as its eight former members in order to give evidence following the votation that happened.
After the Catalan government voted to declare independence, a judge in Madrid had summoned the eight members of the disposed of Catalan government including the deputy of the deposed president, Oriol Junqueras. Together with the president, they will be charged with sedition, rebellion, and misuse of public funds. The court of Madrid wants custody of the Catalan officials while the investigation following their bold announcement is still on-going. Judge Lamela also ruled that there will be a ninth member to summon. This said official resigned before the Catalan government voted its independence. However, his case would still be eligible for bail of €50,000 (£44,600).
Lawyers for the President, As Well as Its Catalan Officials, Will Appeal To The Court Regarding the Judge’s Decisions
The Spanish or technically, the Catalan lawyers will file a motion for reconsideration against the court, stating that the Spanish court’s move was unjustified, disproportionate and predetermined. Meanwhile, in a written request submitted to judge Lamela, the four prosecutors stated that the Catalan President, as well as the four members of his administration, were aware that they have received and read the summon in order to testify before the court. However, they all chose not to attend.
“Repeated attempts to deliver the summons at home and repeated phone calls have been ignored,” they said. “For his part, Carles Puigdemont has publicly stated his intention not to appear and has requested … to make a statement via videoconference, without giving any information about his current whereabouts.”
They also added that they want the authorities to find the deposed Catalan President’s whereabouts along with the four regional ministers who left with him to Belgium.
Catalan President’s Belgian Lawyer Speaks Up On Behalf of the Issue
On Tuesday this week, Puigdemont Belgian lawyer Paul Bekaert stated on a VRT broadcaster that an arrest warrant has been issued for the five Catalan politicians, however, its affectivity is still being questioned since their sources said that a Spanish judge contradicted and override the rule.
“I have just heard from my client that the warrant has been issued for the president and four of his ministers who are in Belgium,” he said.
“Mr Puigdemont will stay here. He has said that he will fully cooperate with Belgian authorities during the procedure,” Bekaert said.
However, the Spanish court denied the lawyer’s claim as stated in Reuters news agency’s source.
Q and A Portion: Do you think Belgium Will Hand Over Carles Puigdemont to Spain?
Granted, if the issued arrest warrant was indeed true, do you think that the Belgian police department will hand over the Catalan President to the Spanish authorities? As we all know, the European Arrest Warrant System is established to avoid political interference in controversial extradition cases. This means that a country is not allowed to refuse an extradition request should a suspect claimed political asylum. However, the EAW can allow a country to refuse to hand over a suspect if he’s being sought because of his nationality or political opinions, which may be the case for the Catalan President.
“The key questions for the Belgian extradition court are likely to be whether the criminal allegations are politically motivated and whether the Spanish authorities are acting abusively,” says Andrew Smith, an extradition specialist at the law firm Corker Binning.
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