The Euroorder against the President Carles Puigdemont and the four dismissed councilors who accompany him in Brussels continues its course. This has been decided by the Belgian judge of first instance who must decide on the European arrest and surrender order (OEDE) issued against them by Judge Carmen Lamela of the National High Court. After today’s appearance in Brussels, the Belgian judge has accepted the euro order from Spain, although he has modified it. Specifically, it has eliminated the crime of embezzlement that is imputed to them in Spain, and has unified the crimes of rebellion and sedition. What’s more, has summoned the defendants again on December 4, the date on which it could issue a ruling or request additional information, as lawyer Christophe Marchand has indicated to the press.
“The Prosecutor’s Office has requested the execution of the European order except for one fact, which is that of prevarication as stated in the Spanish arrest warrant “, explained the lawyer, who is part of the team of eleven lawyers of the five accused, at the end of the first hearing before the Chamber of the Council of Brussels (Court of first instance) .
The Public Ministry has considered that the rest of the crimes for which Spain claims Puigdemont, Lluís Puig, Clara Ponsatí, Meritxell Serret and Toni Comín they fit into the Belgian legal system, according to the defense of the requested ones.
After a hearing in which only the arguments of the Brussels Prosecutor’s Office have been heard, both Puigdemont and his ministers will have to return to the Brussels court of first instance next December 4th, when it will be the turn of the allegations of their defenses.
The hearing was held behind closed doors in a room of the Chamber of the Council of Brussels (Belgian court of first instance) and the defendants have testified one by one and in the company of their lawyers and not jointly. In the session there was a Spanish-Dutch interpreter, since this has been the language chosen by the defendants for the investigation of the case, to the detriment of French, the other official language in Brussels.
The session started around 2:00 p.m. and has lasted about an hour. The five defendants arrived a few minutes before 2:00 p.m. at the Brussels Palace of Justice, the scheduled time for the hearing to begin.
The defense will argue that it is a political case
The defense of Puigdemont, Lluís Puig, Clara Ponsatí, Meritxell Serret and Toni Comín will argue before the judge that “without a doubt it is a political case” and that the Euroorders signed by the judge of the National Court Carmen Lamela they are “very poorly formulated”, close sources have explained to Europa Press.
It will also doubt that all the charges that are imputed to them in Spain – rebellion, sedition, embezzlement, disobedience and prevarication – comply with the principle of “double taxation”, according to which the crime in Spain has a correspondence in the Belgian legal system .
And they will question that none of them “fits” into the definition of “corruption” that Judge Lamela marked in the Euroorders in the list of 32 crimes for which a Member State must automatically extradite a claimed by another country of the Union European.
Part of the Belgian team of lawyers of the five, lawyers Michelle Hirsch and Christophe Marchand, advanced in statements to the newspapers The evening Y The world that they will denounce before the judge that Puigdemont and his former councilors are subject to a “political and abusive” delivery request.
The decision could be delayed
Once the judge passes judgment on the delivery or not of the accused to the Spanish authorities, the Brussels Prosecutor’s Office or the defense of the five will have 24 hours to file an appeal and take the case to the Court of Appeal.
Spain is not a party to this process, so it will not be able to urge the Prosecutor’s Office to file an appeal if the judgment is not favorable to it, although the Belgian Public Ministry would consult with the Spanish authorities before making a decision.
After the judgment on Appeal, the parties could still resort to a last resort, the Court of Cassation (equivalent to the Spanish Supreme Court), which would not rule on the merits of the euro order, but on the form of the procedure.
The rules of the European surrender order establish a maximum period of 60 days to decide on the extradition of the person sought by another Member State, with the possibility of an extension of 30 more days in exceptional cases to reach a total of 90 days .
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.