The German court of Schleswig-Holstein has dealt another blow to the aspirations of Justice Pablo Llarena of Spain’s Supreme Court. On Tuesday the German regional court agreed that the events which Carles Puigdemont is being probed over do not constitute a crime of rebellion. That is what the German court conveyed in a statement which dismisses the request to arrest the Catalan leader after examining new evidence which —according to the Spanish and German prosecutors— showed that Puigdemont posed an increased flight risk.
In a document dated on May 9, the German prosecutor’s office had asked the Schleswig-Holstein court to apprehend Puigdemont once again, as they intended to request that he be handed over to the Spanish authorities. This move would be backed by fresh evidence (footage of the referendum on October 1) provided by their Spanish counterpart, which allegedly helped to build a stronger case for rebellion charges (high treason, as per Article 81 of the German criminal code) or a serious disturbance of the peace (Article 125 of Germany’s criminal code).
However, in its Tuesday statement the Schleswig-Holstein court argues that “there have been no significant changes, neither in the context of the indictment nor in the evidence provided, that advise a different recommendation” from the original position adopted by the same court on April 5.
The court insists that the conditions which would ordinarily characterise a crime of high treason —the German equivalent of rebellion— are not present in this case because “the additional information on the specific events does not change anything about it”. The German court also dismisses the claim that the events under investigation might be regarded as a serious disturbance of the peace that Puigdemont might be held accountable for because —according to the statement— the former Catalan president is not personally responsible for the actions of certain individuals during the clashes on October 1 at polling stations targeted by the Spanish police. All in all —and given the current state of the proceedings—, the German regional court does not believe that Puigdemont poses “a greater flight risk”.
Prosecutor stresses weight of fresh evidence
The German public prosecutor believed that the new information provided by the Spanish authorities (in particular, footage which sought to prove that violence was used against Spanish police officers) was conclusive enough to reassess Puigdemont’s flight risk. Furthermore, he felt the the Schleswig-Holstein court ought to reconsider its decision not to grant Puigdemont’s extradition for rebellion. Interestingly, the prosecutor’s demand to detain Puigdemont was submitted prior to filing a new request to add the crime of rebellion to the extradition process, which still remains open for the lesser offence of misuse of public funds. The prosecutor’s statement demanding Puigdemont’s arrest is dated on May 9, whereas the extradition request has not been submitted yet. Whether it will ever be filed at all, in the wake of such a rebuttal by the German court, is something that remains to be seen.
Puigdemont’s lawyer advises a cool head
Despite the prosecutor’s new request, in a message on Twitter Puigdemont’s lawyer Jaume Alonso Cuevillas advised keeping a cool head: ”It is perfectly normal for the prosecutor to speak on behalf of the country that has requested the extradition”, he noted, and added that ultimately it will be a matter for the court to decide.