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Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena issued an order this Thursday in which he agreed not to present a European arrest warrant for Catalan president in exile Carles Puigdemont and former minister Toni Comín until he knows if the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) approves the precautionary measure to restore the Catalan MEPs' immunity. The investigating judge of the case against the pro-independence politicians is cautious and, for now, has ruled out the request by Vox and the Public Prosecutor's Office to reactivate the European and international arrest warrants immediately. The CJEU's response is not expected until early 2024.

The Junts MEPs, defended by Gonzalo Boye, already announced they will appeal to the CJEU against the General Court of the European Union's (EGC) judgement, which endorsed the withdrawal of their immunity.

Appeal until September 15th

In the ruling, the judge recalls that the July 5th ruling by the EGC, which dismissed the appeals of Puigdemont and Comín against the European Parliament's decision to grant judge Llarena's request, can be appealed before the CJEU within a period of 2 months and 10 days (until September 15th 2023). In addition, it stresses that, in this case, the Catalan exiles can ask the CJEU to provisionally restore their parliamentary immunity.

The Spanish Supreme Court judge explains that any European arrest warrant issued at the current stage of the proceedings would be immediately paralysed were the CJEU to admit the possible precautionary measure requested: “forcing the interruption of its international processing and making it inconsequential”.

As of September 15th, the CJEU takes about 4 months to rule on the Catalan exiles' request. In other words, a response from the court is not expected before next January.

Possible surrender in three months

Furthemore, judge Llarena adds that should the CJEU decide to reject the precautionary measure requested by Puigdemont and Comín, who challenged the EGC's ruling, the accusation's request (Vox and the Spanish Public Prosecutor's Office) can be accepted and implemented “with enough time to act accordingly, given that the maximum period established by Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA to resolve any request for surrender is three months”, stressed the judge.

In that case, the judge argues “there would be no impediment for the defendants to be brought before the Spanish courts before the dissolution of the European Parliament for which they were elected and for the performance of which they were granted the immunity whose waiver was requested from the outset”.

Pressure on Belgian courts

Whatever the CJEU says, in the end Judge Llarena will have to direct the European arrest warrant for Puigdemont and Comín to the Belgian courts, since they reside in Waterloo. And the Spanish judge is already trying to put pressure on them. According to the judge, “the principle of loyal cooperation that operates as a guiding rule between the public bodies of the EU and its States Parties, should be oriented to the fact that, having requested the supplication immediately after the current Parliament was constituted, if the requested suspension of immunity was granted and if it is legally valid, the jurisdictional initiative should be able to achieve the purpose for which it is intended; considering that the constitution of a new Parliament in June 2024, which forces this instructor to restart the process, is an anomaly”.