The Spanish judiciary is to resist Belgium’s attempt to summon Pablo Llarena, the judge overseeing the case against Catalan pro-independence leaders, following a lawsuit filed by former president Carles Puigdemont and other politicians seeking refuge abroad.
A judge in Madrid has rejected a petition from Belgium calling on Llarena to appear in court on September 4, calling the demand “wrongful.” “Llarena is acting within the framework of Spain’s sovereignty” said judge Antonio Viejo, who added that other countries’ attorneys “cannot evaluate judicial investigations by European colleagues following a simple petition by the accused.”
In total, seven Catalan leaders have left the country to avoid prosecution from Spain, while nine are currently in pre-trial jail for their role in the political roadmap that led to a referendum and a declaration of independence last October. They all face criminal charges of rebellion, which carries prison sentences of up to 30 years.
In launching the lawsuit, Puigdemont and his colleagues are seeking Llarena’s recusal (judicial disqualification) in order to remove him from the Supreme Court case against pro-independence leaders.
“We are not being pursued by the judiciary, but by the ideology of a judge,” said Puigdemont in a press conference to present the lawsuit two weeks ago.
The Belgian judiciary offered Llarena the option of appearing in court either in person or through a delegate. According to the Supreme Court, Llarena has no intention of complying with the summons either way.