Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena is making a new judicial move in Europe in the case of the exiled Catalan pro-independence politicians whose extradition he has been seeking for well over three years without success. The investigating judge in the mega-case against the pro-independence leaders has given three days to all parties involved, both the prosecutions and the defence lawyers of Carles Puigdemont, Lluís Puig, Antoni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, to present "submissions on the need to raise a preliminary question before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the scope of the possibilities for petition and the reasons for refusal of a European arrest and surrender order, in accordance with Framework Decision 2002/584 /JHA, in order to be able to establish stable criteria, leading to the decision to maintain, withdraw or issue new European Arrest Warrants against all or some of those prosecuted in that case."
The judge has also asked the parties to report on the content of the question or questions that should be put to the European court.
In a resolution which was notified today, judge Llarena has explained that Belgian judicial authorities officially informed him on February 1st this year, of their decision, "of a final nature", to refuse to hand over the Catalan culture minister in exile Lluís Puig to Spain.
The Spanish judge considers that the Belgian executing authority's interpretation of EU law and of the rules set out in the Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant and surrender procedures - under which it refused to transfer Lluís Puig to Spain - "is at variance with that held by this Supreme Court, and that the final interpretation of the rules affects not only the handover decisions to be taken in the future and their procedural effectiveness, but also the continuity of measures that directly and permanently impact on the right to freedom of those concerned, not only in terms of their freedom of movement in the country currently executing the procedure, but in all those other EU states where their arrest order applies today and which may restrict their freedom in the future."
The judge recalls that, in the parts of the case relating to the defendants Lluís Puig, Carles Puigdemont, Antoni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, European arrest warrants have been issued, subject to the Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA , of 13th June 2002, as amended by Council Framework Decision 2009/2.2/JHA of 26th February 2009.
He also affirms that the setting of the three-day deadline period is a consequence of the parties' knowledge of the matter, as the lengthy processing of the European Arrest Warrants has facilitated their knowledge, as all decisions are fully known since they have been promptly notified to the parties, both in this [current] proceeding, despite their situation of absence, and in the state of execution.