The Court of Appeal of Sassari has decided to suspend sine die the procedure it had opened on the extradition of the exiled Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont. The Sardinian court opted for the suspension, effectively putting off a decision while it awaits the EU Court of Justice's ruling on the preliminary questions presented by Spanish judge Pablo Llarena as well as the EU General Court's decision on the claim for interim measures filed last week by the Catalan politician to regain his immunity as an MEP.
Puigdemont arrived at the Court of Appeal of Sassari shortly before 11 in the morning and left after 3pm, without any measures imposed on his freedom of movement. He was accompanied in his declaration by his lawyer Gonzalo Boye, Italian lawyer Angostinangelo Marras, as well as one of the vice-presidents of the Junts party, Josep Rius.
The proceedings pending resolution to which the Court of Appeal referred are, on the one hand, the preliminary questions put by Spanish judge Llarena to the EU Court of Justice following a Belgian court's decision not to extradite exiled Catalan minister Lluís Puig. According to the Luxembourg court, the presentation of those questions has suspended the European Arrest Warrants until a ruling is handed down. According to judge Llarena, the suspension only applies to Belgium, not to other European countries.
The second issue to be resolved concerns the interim measures that Puigdemont's defence presented to the EU General Court last Friday, demanding that his immunity be restored as there is a risk - as the Sardinian incident on September 23rd seems to be reflect - that he will be arrested.
Request by prosecutor
The prosecution had already asked during the hearing to suspend the extradition process for Puigdemont while the court in Luxembourg rules on the questions it has before it.
At 2:30pm, the court paused its session so that the judge could deliberate and shortly after three o'clock the parties were notified of the decision.
Puigdemont's entourage welcomed the result, which, they stress, represents a new judicial blow against the lawfare to which the Spanish Supreme Court judge Llarena is subjecting the exiled politicians.
Vox, left out
As for the request from extreme-right party Vox to appear in the case, it was rejected by the court. However, the party's legal secretary, Marta Castro, and the lawyer they had appointed waited inside the building until the court made its decision.
At the door of the Court of Appeal, the two other Junts MEPs, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, were waiting for Puigdemont. That same morning, Llarena had informed the Italian authorities that the arrest warrant against them was still in force. However, after the Sassari judge had released Puigdemont on September 24th, Italy informed Spain that it was "flagging" the arrest warrant, transforming it into an order under which those included are identified by police to check their place of residence and current whereabouts. In fact, Italian carabinieri asked Ponsatí to present her ID on Sunday morning at her hotel.
The Catalan justice minister, Lourdes Ciuró, representatives of Sardinian pro-independence parties and ONGs, and the leadership of the Together for Catalonia (Junts) political party, including the general secretary, Jordi Sànchez, and the president of the parliamentary group, Albert Batet, were also waiting for the president as he left the court. Puigdemont did not make any statements on entering or leaving and has scheduled a press conference in l'Alguer this afternoon. His Italian lawyer Angostinangelo Marras has been tasked with explaining the court ruling.