The Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, has responded to the decision of the Court of Sassari, in Sardinia, to suspend its ruling on the European Arrest Warrant procedure against him, by addressing a direct message to the Spanish state. "It's time to say to Spain: 'Enough!'" he stated after recounting that in the last four years all the courts that have seen his case have ruled in his favour. Puigdemont called for self-criticism by Spain and was adamant that the path the Spanish state is taking will not end the conflict: "This is not the way."
The president appeared at a press conference in the city of l'Alguer (Alghero) accompanied by his lawyer Gonzalo Boye, and the Italian lawyer who assisted him in the proceedings in Sassari, Agostinangelo Marras. He did so after the Sassari Court of Appeal informed that it was suspending the European Arrest Warrant procedure, pending two rulings from European instances of justice: the EU Court of Justice's decision on the preliminary questions put by Spanish judge Pablo Llarena; and the EU General Court's ruling on the request for interim measures to restore Puigdemont's parliamentary immunity.
The pro-independence politician warned that if the Spanish state keeps up the same strategy "it will continue to fail"; that Spain's reputation will be severely damaged; and that this path only hinders the resolution of a conflict that is political, which must be overcome by exercising the right to self-determination.
"Casado, like Sánchez"
However, Puigdemont showed his skepticism about this possible change. When asked about the words of Popular Party (PP) leader Pablo Casado on Sunday - asserting that he would bring the Catalan president before the Spanish Supreme Court even if he has to go to every country in Europe - he compared the statements with the position of his opponents, the Socialists (PSOE).
"I would say that the PP policies are a carbon copy of those of Pedro Sánchez. They have made political promises to extradite me. I don't know how they plan to do it in compliance with the law, because the ways they would have to do it are illegal," he warned. "What will they do? Will they kidnap me? Will they do what they did when the Spanish state fought its dirty war against ETA? They only have these two ways, Casado and Sánchez. In this sense, PP and PSOE share the same commitment."
From the front row, Puigdemont's appearance was followed by his fellow Junts MEPs Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, who also have European Arrest Warrants in their name issued by judge Pablo Llarena, who forwarded the message to the Italian authorities this morning with that they remain in force.
Four years in exile
Puigdemont recalled that at the end of October it will be four years since they took the path of exile, a period in which he has faced three international arrest warrants in Belgium, Germany and now in Italy. "With these three arrest warrants, Spain has not achieved any of its political goals, and I say political because it is clear that Spain uses judicial power, which is fundamental to the rule of law, to achieve political goals," he said.
Puigemont said he was "very content" but outraged. "I was calm, because I knew it would end like this, but having said that I naturally feel indignation towards all those who are trying to hinder my work. I have every right in the world to stand up for the people who have voted for us in the same conditions as everyone else. It is high time for the European authorities to also realize this," he said.
The president assured that for him to return to Catalonia, it has to be the result of the strategy they are carrying out and lawyer Gonzalo Boye added that next spring there may be some results from his legal claims in Europe.
A right to be pleased
Boye stressed that the decision of the Sassari court shows that the strategy they have followed is the right one. “We have a right to be very pleased today,” he celebrated.
The lawyer, who stressed that "today's resolution is what is expected of a European judicial resolution: brief, exhaustive and tremendously technical," also commented on the attempt to take part in the hearing by Vox - "a fascist political party," he said. He explained that the prosecution had opposed them and the court in a very short time had determined that they had no place in the hearing. "We have not come to do politics in the courts. We have come to do justice. This time we have been to a courthouse and justice has been done," said the lawyer, who said he has no preference over whether the European Arrest Warrant question is to be aired in Belgium or Italy: "It doesn't matter to me, they are democratic states."