The extradition hearing of the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and two of his former ministers, Toni Comín and Lluís Puig, who are all resident in Belgium, has been postponed.
A Brussels court on Monday accepted the defence team’s request to postpone the hearing, at least until the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rules on the immunity of former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras – expected this Thursday 19 December – after he was elected MEP in the last European elections held in May 2019.
Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín were also elected as MEPs alongside Oriol Junqueras, but none of the three were able to take up their seats. The Luxembourg ruling on Junqueras could also have an implication on the immunity status of both Puigdemont and Comín.
The Belgian court has now scheduled a new hearing for Puigdemont on 3 February 2020.
‘The judge has considered that the best was to wait until February 3, without any opposition, not even the prosecutor,’ said Puigdemont to the media after the short hearing.
‘The decision on Thursday [on Junqueras] is very relevant for all the rights at stake,’ added Puigdemont.
It is Spain’s third attempt to extradite Carles Puigdemont, with the first warrant withdrawn in December 2017, and the second accepted by Germany but only for misuse of funds and not rebellion. However, Madrid did not accept those charges and again ended up withdrawing its European arrest warrant.
It is also the third time that ministers Comín and Puig have faced an extradition request by Spain over their role in the 2017 independence bid.
Belgian authorities had originally rejected the second extradition attempt against Comín, Puig, and also Meritxell Serret in 2018 for an error in the form. Spanish judge Pablo Llarena then withdrew the request against all exiled members of the Catalan government after the German justice system refused to extradite former president Carles Puigdemont for rebellion.
Following the verdicts in the Supreme Court trial and the sentences of up to 13 years for nine former Catalan leaders for sedition and misuse of public funds, warrants have since been reissued.
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