Photo: Catalan political exiles in Brussels, with their legal team, and Puigdemont by video link (Credit: Vilaweb)
By Vilaweb Staff Writers
From 5th June 2018
Christophe Marchand, lawyer for Carles Puigdemont and the exiled councellors, announced in a Brussels press conference that Belgian Justice has summoned the Spanish Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena on the 4th of September. The origin of the citation is a civil lawsuit filed by the exiles against the magistrate, arging that he has violated their right to the presumption of innocence and to a fair trial, with statements that he made in Ovieu (in Asturias).
Counseller Toni Comín explained that the lawsuit was filed because Llarena “made statements outside of his jurisdictional remit” and that these statements had violated the aforementioned rights of the exiled politicians. Over the course of a few days, Llarena made statements to the effect that Forcadell, Sànchez, Cuixart and the imprisoned Counsellers were not political prisoners. And with relation to the issues being investigated, he said “these are behaviours outlined in the penal code, and therefore must be investigated, regardless of the motive for which they were committed. These statementst were picked up by various Spanish media outlets.
Video: The statements for which Llarena has been summoned (Credit: TV3)
Llarena also defended EuroOrdres (European Detention Orders): “The international detention order isn’t to be carried out on the basis of suspicion, but rather when it is already known that the facts have good rational indicators proving they have been perpetrated, and when their perpetration implies a grave felony in the country which is asking for collaboration [via the EuroOrdre].”
Civil lawsuit and a proposal for recusing Llarena
The president Carles Puigdemont and the exiled counsellers -Toni Comin, Meritxell Serret and Lluís Puig- explained that they consider that Llarena has not guaranteed the conditions necessary for a fair trial and the has overstepped the boundaries of his functions. According to Comín, the lawsuit is founded on statements Llarena made “beyond his jurisdiction” which violate the preumed innocence of the exiles, as well as their right to an independent judge”.
Video: Toni Comín speaking at the Brussels press conference (Credit: Vilaweb)
On the other hand, the counselor also announced that they would present a proposal to have Llarena recused to the [Spanish] Supreme Court. This is being argued based on article 219.8 of the law of the judiciary, which says that one basis for recusal, is a judge having a pending case with one of the parties of ongoing cases in which he or she is judge. As of today, that is the case.
At the press conference in Brussels, the exiles, accompanied by legal teams, asserted that until now, the defense strategy was to do as much as they could to avoid the execution of the EuroOrdres. Havin already been rejected once by Belgian law for ‘structural defects’, the exiles decided to take a proactive step forward to defend their rights.
‘It was time to move on and fight for our rights and our freedoms. We went into exile precisely for this reason. We are not persecuted for justice, but because of a judge’s ideology,” said Puigdemont. The president also hopes that this change of strategy will help the jailed counselors towards release and guarantee their rights during trial, too.