Editorial, 31 January 2023
The ruling agrees with the examining magistrate in the main case of the ‘procés’, Pablo Llarena, and brings the entry of the former Catalan president closer pending the TGUE ruling
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that Belgium cannot refuse the surrender of Carles Puigdemont to Spain based on the argument that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to try the former president of the Generalitat and that, therefore, there is a risk that his right to a fair trial will be violated, considering that there are no systemic problems of judicial independence in Spain.
The ruling, concerning the preliminary questions raised in the case of former minister Lluís Puig and known on Tuesday, agrees with the approach of the examining magistrate in the main case on the procés, Pablo Llarena, and paves the way for the issuance of new European arrest warrants and for an eventual surrender of Puigdemont to Spanish justice, which, of course, also depends on what the General Court of the European Union (CJEU) decides on the immunity of Puigdemont and the also Junts MEP and former minister Toni Comín.
The decision of the CJEU discredits the actions of the Belgian judiciary, stating that “the principles of mutual trust and recognition between Member States are the cornerstone of the system of cooperation of the European arrest warrant”, whose execution cannot be refused by the judicial authorities of the Member States of the European Union on the grounds of a lack of jurisdiction of the court issuing the European arrest warrant.
For the court, the Belgian judiciary could only refuse to execute a European arrest warrant in the event of a real risk of a breach of the right to a fair trial, arising from systemic or generalised deficiencies in the judicial system of the issuing Member State, and if there are serious grounds for believing that the requested person will run that risk if extradited.