Puigdemont requests provisional measures from European justice to regain immunity
Former president has an appointment in Alghero on Monday 4 October to decide on his extradition
BrusselsFormer president of the Generalitat and current MEP Carles Puigdemont has chosen October 1 to ask the European courts to restore his parliamentary immunity. The European General Court (EGC) has informed this Friday that Puigdemont's defence has formally requested provisional measures to regain immunity, as they already warned that they would do after his arrest in Alghero. Puigdemont has an appointment on Monday, October 4 before the judge in Sassari, who ordered his release after the ex president spent a night in prison in Sardinia.
Puigdemont's defence already warned on the day of his arrest that he planned to take this legal step as it was foreseen by the European court in the resolution which withdrew his immunity, as well as that of former Ministers Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí. The three had been stripped of their parliamentary immunity by the European Parliament (EP) at the request of the Spanish Supreme Court's judge Pablo Llarena, in an attempt to execute European arrest warrants.
All three appealed the EP's decision to the EGC, which temporarily restored their immunity as a precautionary measure. Later, it was withdrawn again because it considered that there was no risk of arrest after the Spanish Supreme Court suspended the European arrest warrants, as it was waiting a resolution on a pretrial question to the Court of Justice of the European Unioin (CJEU and not the same as the EGC) regarding Belgium's refusal to extradite former Minister Lluís Puig. This, at least, is what the State Attorney's Office told the EGC, as stated in the 30 July ruling. The thing is that Llarena now denies it and claims that the European arrest warrant is still active (he repeated it this Thursday), and that is why the alarm in the Schengen alert system went off when Puigdemont set foot in Italian territory. Now, after the arrest, his defence has again asked for immunity to be reinstated because it believes that the reasons for not doing so have been disproved.
Sources close to Puigdemont's defence say they have taken a few days because "they are in no hurry" and, as lawyer Gonzalo Boye tweets, it does not affect Puigdemont's appointment next Monday in Sassari. What the measure does seek is that Spain positions itself on the case, just after Llarena spoke twice contradicting the State Attorney's Office. Hence the defense has waited for a second official notification from Llarena in this regard. It thinks of these precautionary measures more as a protection for Puigdemont's future trips rather than in the context of Monday's hearing in Alghero.
According to the procedure's rules, the president (or vice-president) of the EGC notifies the other party, which is not Spain but the European Parliament, which is given a "short" period to submit observations; "short" because they are very precautionary measures. In this case, it was Spain that actively requested to intervene in the case and, therefore, it will also be notified and will be able to present arguments if it considers it appropriate. The EGC can also accept or reject the application even before the other party has submitted observations.
With regard to Monday's hearing in Sassari, sources close to the former president say there will be no further complications. They anticipate that the former president will fly in on Monday to Sardinia and that due to the flight combination he will stay overnight. Even so, they hope that the Sassari judge will rule in the same line as the Belgian courts, which issued a statement the day of the arrest in which they reaffirmed that the extradition process is suspended while awaiting for the CJEU to rule on the extradition request.