The lawyers of Carles Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras, Rafael Correa and Lula da Silva have denounced the “judicialization of politics” in an event in the European Parliament organized by MEPs Diana Riba, Pernando Barrena, and Puigdemont.

Lawyers Gonzalo Boye, Andreu Van den Eynde, Christophe Marchand, and Valeska Teixeira warned the chamber on Wednesday that the proceedings against their clients are motivated by politics, and they condemned the use of the courts to punish dissident voices.

Boye, who is Puigdemont’s lawyer, said “there’s no need for coups when you can twist the law,” while Marchand, who represents Correa, said “it’s not a criminal situation but a political one,” claiming that Ecuador’s anti-corruption laws were used to pursue his client.

Like Puigdemont, who left Catalonia in October 2017 following the independence bid, former Ecuadorian president Correa now lives in Belgium and is also fighting extradition, in his case over allegations surrounding the kidnapping of a political opponent.

Symptoms of lawfare

For the lawyer of jailed independence leader Junqueras, Van den Eynde, the symptoms of this legal war are “use and control of the media, arbitrary detention, reinterpretation of the law, a lack of fair trials, disproportionate sentences, and restrictions on human rights.”

Oriol Junqueras was the Catalan vice president during the 2017 independence bid, was arrested and tried in Spain’s Supreme Court soon after, and was finally sentenced to 13 years in prison for sedition last October.

Teixeira, former Brazilian president Lula da Silva’s lawyer, said that in her client’s case the law was used “strategically,” adding that “it’s not fighting corruption when it is not done within the rule of law,” in reference to the corruption allegations leveled at Da Silva.

Originally convicted for corruption in July 2017, Da Silva was set free by Brazil’s Supreme Court last November until all his appeals against his conviction have been exhausted, a decision that his allies say indicates a lack of evidence behind his arrest.

The Catalan case

Relating to the Catalan case, Van den Eynde denounced the “mass violation of human rights” by the Spanish authorities, expressing doubts about “the direction of European justice” and predicting the cases will end up in the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights.

Meanwhile, in the introduction to the event, Puigdemont insisted that the political use of the courts is “a European issue” and the MEP pointed to the “arbitrary detentions” in the EU, in reference to the imprisoned Catalan independence leaders.

MEP Diana Riba also spoke about the jailed leaders, condemning the “unjust” situation of her partner, Raül Romeva, who was the Catalan minister of external relations during the 2017 independence bid, and who is now serving nine years in prison for sedition.