The week prior Easter, former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, aka ’Puigi ’, left his self-imposed exile in Belgium to follow an invitation by the University of Helsinki, Finland.
At the same time, Spanish examining magistrate Pablo Llarena activated the – in December 2017 temporarily abrogated – warrant for arrest against ’Puigi’.
The fugitive from justice cancelled his return flight to Belgium. A Belgian-plated van was dispatched to pick ’Puigi ’ up in order to sneak unnoticed through the Schengen Zone to reach his cosy rented Waterloo mansion (monthly rent: €4,400).
Spanish intelligence CNI mobilised 12 agents. To ’Puigi’s’ Renault Espace had been fitted a geolocation tracking device. When the Spanish liaison agent at the headquarter of the BKA (Bundeskriminalamt = Germany’s ’FBI ’) received information from the CNI observation teams that ’Puigi ’ and his entourage did not use the ferry connecting Denmark with the German Baltic Sea port of Puttgarden, he informed German authorities who initiated the Operation ’Sirene ’, ie law enforcement agencies of the state of Schleswig-Holstein near the Danish border were alerted about the arrival of ’Puigi’s’ van, which was eventually intercepted.
Subsequent to ’Puigi’s ’ detention he was immediately represented by the lawyer Wolfgang Schomburg, a ’heavyweight‘ in his profession. According to his curriculum vitae he worked 15 years as a prosecuting attorney in Berlin and served six years as undersecretary in Berlin’s ministry of justice. In 2001 the General Assembly of the UN appointed Mr S as judge of the International Tribunal of The Hague, where he acted in trials of human rights violation cases from the civil wars in Yugoslavia and Ruanda. In 2009 Mr S was appointed honorary professor teaching international law at Durham University, UK.
From the Merkel government Mr S demanded ’Puigi‘s’ immediate release from custody, threatening at the same time to file a motion with the Constitutional Court. (Earlier, Merkel’s speaker had announced that ’the German government would fully back Spain’s extradition request and had no doubts that the judiciary respects democratic values…’
Briefly, Mr S contested the contents of the 69-page writ which corroborates the extradition request by the examining magistrate Pablo Llavera: ’imprecise ’, ’superficial ’, the allegations of violence are ’untenable’ and corruption is ’adventurous ’. Mr S showed respect and politeness towards his Spanish academical colleague by not qualifying the writ in Spanish: ’chapucería ’.
Neither the ’engineers’ of the plan to have ’Puigi ’ busted in Germany nor the lawyers who appeared on Spanish TV talkshows have been aware of Article 6 AICCM (Act
on International Cooperation in Criminal Matters) – please see enclosed copy – and must now realise that ’Puigi ’ was no easy prey at all! Said article makes it compulsory:
Extradition for a political offence or for an offence connected with such an offence shall not be granted.
Extradition shall not be granted if there is serious cause to believe that the person sought if extradited would be persecuted or punished because of his race… or his political beliefs, or that his situation would be made more difficult for one of these reasons.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression called on the Spanish authorities to refrain from charging Catalan politicians and activists advocating the regional independence of rebellion:
“Prosecutions for ’rebellion’ that could lead to lengthy jail sentences raise serious risks of deterring wholly legitimate speech, even if it is controversial and discomfiting. . .
Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of every free and democratic society and it will remain so long after the current political controversies subside,“ David Kaye said, quoted by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR).
Since in Belgium, Scotland, Switzerland – where other Catalan fugitives are hiding – and Germany, the law lacks a punishable offence called ’rebellion’, ’Puigi’s’ lawyer is going to tear up the extradition request’s remaining charge of ’defalcation of public funds used for the independence referendum‘: €224,834,25 (Registry of Catalan voters living abroad). €272,804,36 (Announcement of the referendum). €119,700 (Expenses for international observers of the voting process). In this context ’Puigi’s’ lawyer asked German authorities to obtain an explanation from down south: “Is it embezzlement when a legitimately elected politician uses taxpayers‘ funds to pursue a political goal in accordance with his constituency? “
When ’Puigi ’ was released from custody the other day and met the press outside the correctional facility, his first words were in English: “It’s a shame that in the 21st century there are still political prisoners on European soil.“
Madrid’s politicians are not amused about the German decision. El País whines: “Lack of comprehension by a second class court… Patriotic“. ABC: “Consternation, because there are ’Justice Paradises’ in Germany, Belgium, UK, Switzerland which disregard Spain‘s sovereignty due to the refusal to execute an European Warrant for Arrest… and the German court did not put confidence in Spain’s judiciary thus indicating its ’non-European level‘… “