Germany, Austria, Belgium, Lithuania and Switzerland have all, at various points over the last four years, told Spanish authorities that they would not extradite Catalonia’s exiled President Carles Puigdemont. According to documents relating to Spain’s Supreme Court case against Puigdemont, revealed by Vilaweb, authorities of these countries have informed the Spanish judiciary that they would not hand him over through the Sirene police cooperation system.

Some of the countries were very clear about the political root of Spain’s persecution. Swiss authorities, for example, said: “The facts described do not constitute – at first sight – an extraditable crime, under Swiss law, but appear to be a political crime or a crime related to a political crime.” Others referred to Puigdemont’s immunity as MEP. In February 2020, Germany advised Spain that “according to the German Ministry of Justice the wanted person enjoys diplomatic immunity as a member of the European Parliament”.

Italy next?

Italy could well be the next country in this list. Exiled President Carles Puigdemont arrived on Sunday morning in Alghero, Sardinia, ahead of an appearance in the Sassari Court of Appeal over an extradition request from the Spanish Supreme Court. The MEP is accompanied by fellow MEPs Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí and former senator Josep Maria Matamala. Comín, who like Puigdemont has been living in exile since the 2017 independence push, was stopped for several minutes by Italian police, but eventually waved through.

Puigdemont met with his legal team on Sunday to prepare for Monday’s court appearance. The court has to decide whether or not to activate extradition proceedings against Puigdemont, as requested by Spain’s Supreme Magistrate Pablo Llarena. The exiled president’s defense team is confident that the Italian judiciary will close the case. The hearing is scheduled to get underway at 1130am.

Puigdemont was arrested in Sardina last week, only to be provisionally released a day later. On Friday he asked the General Court of the European Union to provisionally restore his political immunity as a member of the EU parliament.

 

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