Following the ruling from Belgian justice rejecting the extradition to Spain of Catalan minister Lluís Puig, four of the exiled Catalan politicians have made a direct video appeal to Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez to "abide" by the decision of the European courts and rectify the Spanish state's strategy of persecuting the Catalan independence movement. In a multi-lingual campaign, Puig himself along with Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí and Toni Comín each deliver versions of their appeal to the Spanish government, in Castilian, Catalan, English and French respectively.
"It is the Spanish government and its grave mistake of judicializing politics that has led to its defeat in Europe," warns Clara Ponsatí in the English version of the video message posted by the exile body Council for the Catalan Republic on its Twitter account: "Prime minister Sánchez, we ask you to end this folly".
"We address Pedro Sánchez"
The message delivered by Ponsatí and her colleagues notes that the decision handed down on Thursday by the Belgian Court of Appeals against Puig's extradition is the second final ruling in Europe against the prosecution of pro-independence leaders, after a German judge ruled in 2018 that they could not be prosecuted for the crimes of sedition and rebellion.
"Our appeal is addressed to the prime minister of the Spanish government, Mr Pedro Sánchez, as the highest political authority of the Spanish state, to ask him to abide by this sentence. It was the Spanish government that promoted the suspension of the Catalan government under article 155, and the lawfare strategy to liquidate and behead the Catalan independence movement", underlines Ponsatí.
The pro-independence politician says that Friday's decision by the Belgian prosecutors to accept the 'no' to the extradition of Puig puts an end to the judicial battle that started the exile, and warns that Spain has lost this contention because Spanish justice does not guarantee their rights or a fair trial.
"Set the political prisoners free"
The exiled politician warns Sánchez that "it is time to redress the mistake" and that "a rectification is essential in order to find a political solution." "Set the political prisoners free, you can do it. Yes, you can! You have the legal and executive tools and you have the parliamentary majority to do it. Mr Sánchez, you promised to end the judicialization of politics. Today Europe shows you the way. Do it!" asserts the message read by the former education minister.
The message denounces that Spain is holding nine people in prison "who should not be there"; they were arbitrarily detained, according to the United Nations; they have been tried and convicted of non-existent crimes, according to German justice; and they have faced violations of their fundamental rights - such as the right to a natural judge and the presumption of innocence, according to Belgian justice. “Carme Forcadell, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Quim Forn, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa, Jordi Cuixart, and Jordi Sànchez were convicted to 9-13 years by a court that was incompetent and did not respect the presumption of innocence,” retorts Ponsatí.
The message also contains a warning to Sánchez that Spain has a very serious judicial problem and it is his responsibility to find a solution. "As long as it maintains its Francoist ways, serving the political agenda of the far right in the judicial system, the Spanish state will not be able to guarantee the rule of law for everyone equally and its obligations as a member of the EU," stresses the message from the exiled pro-independence Catalans.
Versions in Catalan, Castilian and French
Former president of Catalonia and MEP Carles Puigdemont presented the same message in Catalan.
Exiled culture minister Luis Puig recorded a version for Castilian speakers:
Former health minister and current MEP Toni Comín delivered the message in French:
Déclaration institutionnelle du Consell per la República à l'occasion de la décision finale de la Cour contraire à l'extradition de l'honorable conseiller @LluisPuigGordi (2/2) pic.twitter.com/qBgWxT8rji— Consell per la República Catalana (@ConsellxRep) January 8, 2021