6 October 2021
The former president of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, during his reappearance in L’Alguer (Sardinia) after his release / Lorena Sopêna (EP)
The Italian Public Prosecutor’s Office considers that the offences for which the Supreme Court is demanding the fugitive former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont – sedition and embezzlement – could be covered by its legislation, in reference to articles 241 and 314 of the Italian Criminal Code.
This is stated in the order of 4 October by which the Court of Sassari agreed to suspend the extradition of the secessionist leader while waiting for the Court of the European Union to rule on immunity and the preliminary ruling made by the investigating judge of the case of the procés in the Supreme Court, Pablo Llarena.
Attack on the unity of the state
According to the brief, to which Europa Press has had access, the Public Prosecutor’s Office claims that the crimes of sedition and embezzlement for which the European arrest warrant was issued against Puigdemont would be subsumable in two articles of the Italian Criminal Code.
Specifically, the Public Prosecutor’s Office refers to article 241, which is part of the block dedicated to “attacks on the integrity, independence and unity of the State“, which punishes with “not less than 12 years in prison” anyone who commits “direct violent acts” capable of “undermining the independence or unity of the State”. “The penalty is aggravated if the offence is committed in violation of the duties inherent in the exercise of public functions,” the law adds. This offence could be compared to sedition under Spanish law.
Appropriation of property
The Italian Public Prosecutor’s Office also mentions article 314 of the Italian Penal Code, which provides for a prison sentence of four years to ten years for any public official or public service official who, by reason of his or her position, possesses or disposes of money or other property and appropriates it. This would be comparable to the crime of embezzlement that the Supreme Court attributed to Puigdemont.
The importance of the Italian Prosecutor’s Office identifying both crimes in its legislation lies in the fact that one of the requirements for the execution of the European arrest warrant is that the country to which the surrender is demanded contemplates as a crime in its legislation – with more than three years’ imprisonment – the alleged acts.
The German and Swiss cases
In April 2018, the Higher Regional Court of Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, issued bail of €75,000 for Puigdemont and indicated that extradition was only possible on the basis of the offence of embezzlement, but not rebellion.
Switzerland, for its part, informed Spain in 2017, 2018 and 2019 that it would refuse to hand over the former Catalan president, considering that the facts described in the international arrest warrant issued by the Supreme Court “do not constitute prima facie an extraditable offence under Swiss law”, and that “they appear to be a political offence”, according to documents from the International Cooperation Division of the Ministry of the Interior that are part of the case file of Puigdemont’s personal situation in the Supreme Court, to which Europa Press has had access.