The secretary of the EU Court of Justice has told Spain's Supreme Court that it will respond to the preliminary questions raised concerning European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) in relation to the "defendants in absentia in special case 20907/17 of the Supreme Court". Thus, the preliminary questions presented by judge Pablo Llarena with regard to the ongoing efforts by the Spanish justice system to arrest Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, Lluís Puig and Clara Ponsatí are now being considered by the European court after it earlier returned them to Spain for correction because they contained several errors.
Now, all the parties involved will be notified. Unlike the procedure that was carried out in relation to jailed Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras, in which the EU court ruled that he had immunity as an elected MEP, the president of the court has agreed not to take urgency on the request, but instead to apply the ordinary procedure. In the case of Junqueras, the process was expedited because the defendant was in prison serving his sentence.
Ponsatí's case: to Belgium?
Meanwhile, the Scottish judiciary has called a new hearing on August 26th to decide whether to place the EAW against Clara Ponsatí in the hands of the Belgian courts. Following a procedural hearing held this Tuesday, the Edinburgh court has again summoned the parties with regard to its doubts about jurisdiction in the case, as Ponsatí now lives in Belgium where she serves as an MEP. Ponsatí prefers to fight the European warrant in the Belgian courts, which are also considering Spain's request for extradition of Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín. However, the Edinburgh prosecutor has not decided in her favour for the moment, but rather has deferred the decision to a new hearing, according to sources close to the case.
The EAWs against the three MEPs are now frozen. The defence lawyers acting for the Junts politicians believe that they will not be reactivated until judge Pablo Llarena's preliminary questions are resolved.
Two cases, two procedures
The decision by the EU Court of Justice to maintain an ordinary procedure instead of an accelerated procedure on the case of the Catalan MEPs means the hearing of the case takes longer. The difference is that, when urgency is deemed necessary, deadlines for translation into the different languages of the Union are reduced, and the president of the court may invite those concerned to limit their submissions or written observations on the essential questions of law raised by the reference for a preliminary ruling.
As well, the period for submitting observations in the accelerated procedure, may be set at a duration of less than two months established by the ordinary procedure. However, it may not be less than fifteen days.