05.04.2018 - 14:29
Actualització: 05.04.2018 - 16:29
Former Slovenian foreign affairs minister and MEP Ivo Vajgl met Catalan president Carles Puigdemont yesterday in the German Neumünster prison, where he is in custody awaiting the verdict on his extradition case. After sitting down with him, Vajgl stated that he hopes that Germany does not extradite Puigdemont: ‘I hope that this proceeding ends with Puigdemont’s release’.
Vajgl, currently in the Liberal Group (ALDE) of the European Parliament, is also one of the spokespersons of the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform, made up by MEPs from different countries and political groups. The platform was created to urge European institutions to push for dialogue between Catalonia and Spain in order to find a solution to the current political conflict between them.
The Slovenian MEP admitted that visiting a democratically elected president in prison had upset him, and he expressed his solidarity with the deposed Catalan leader. The former minister noted that the current conflict between Catalonia and Spain is a ‘political issue’ and that it can only be solved by dialogue. Puigdemont told Vajgl that he is willing to sit down and negotiate with the Spanish government.
According to the Slovenian MEP, the political situation in Catalonia is not a ‘domestic affair since basic democratic rules have been violated’. For Vajgl, it is ‘unacceptable that MPs’ human rights are violated’, referring to jailed Catalan MPs, as well as those who went into exile after being deposed by Madrid. Vajgl went on to criticize the attitude of most European leaders and governments: ‘They do not understand that lowering democratic standards is a danger to Europe’, he warned.
Puigdemont’s presidential bid on the table
Carles Puigdemont is willing to continue representing the Catalan government. That’s what he told the first vice president of the Catalan Parliament, Josep Costa, who also met the Catalan President in prison. After the meeting, Costa said that Puigdemont is optimistic regarding the German court decision on his extradition, as he trusts the German judiciary will rule that his cause is ‘political’.
Puigdemont’s candidacy for president is still on the table – at least for now. The Catalan president’s ticket, Junts per Catalunya, insisted that both Puigdemont and the jailed MP Jordi Sànchez are their presidential candidates, and that for the moment they are not looking for an alternative.
Puigdemont’s ticket wants to attempt amending the Presidency Bill in order to swear Puigdemont in at a distance. In addition, the group is trusting in the effects of statements from international organisations, such as the United Nations, which has already urged Spain to protect MPs’ political rights. According to sources in Junts per Catalunya, the party wants a new investiture debate to be held in the Catalan Parliament, and want to avoid subordinating Puigdemont’s court proceeding in Germany to parliamentary negotiations to invest a new Catalan president.
“Too soon” to decide on Puigdemont’s extradition
Meanwhile, the German court that will make a decision on Puigdemont’s extradition -the Schleswig-Holstein high court- stated that it is too soon to say when a decision on whether to keep Puigdemont in custody will be taken. “It could be this week, next week or within two weeks” said sources in the German court.
In addition, they pointed out that there is no need for a hearing to decide on any precautionary measures against Puigdemont, as the deposed Catalan leader could testify through a written statement.
German prosecutor requests Puigdemont’s extradition
Three German magistrates are now reviewing the request issued by Schleswig-Holstein’s attorney general. On Tuesday, the prosecutor requested Puigdemont’s extradition for high treason and misuse of public funds, two crimes recognized in the German criminal code. In addition, the attorney general called on the judges to keep the deposed Catalan leader in prison throughout the whole process, arguing that Puigdemont is a flight risk.
German judges will first decide on the precautionary measures to be applied to Puigdemont while awaiting a decision on his extradition. Once a decision on that issue is made, the court will decide whether to accept the European Arrest Warrant against Puigdemont, which was issued by the Spanish judiciary. If it is accepted, a final approval from Schleswig-Holstein’s attorney general will be needed to carry out the extradition.