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Spain’s Supreme Court refuses amnesty for Carles Puigdemont

by editor

Spain’s Supreme Court rejected a request to apply the country’s new amnesty law to Carles Puigdemont and other Catalan independence leaders on Monday, ruling that the legislation cannot be used for some of the crimes of which they stand accused.

In a blistering ruling criticizing the Spanish parliament, the court’s judges wrote that the amnesty law passed by lawmakers last month cannot be applied to the alleged crimes of embezzlement for personal benefit or when it “affects the financial interests of the European Union.”

Although prosecutors have never been able to prove that separatist leaders used EU cash to finance their activities, the court’s judges argued that their independence bid itself threatened the bloc’s financial interests. According to their reasoning, had the 2017 referendum on Catalan independence been successful, the EU’s territorial dimensions and Spain’s contribution to the bloc’s budget would have been impacted.

“It is especially difficult to reconcile the European Union’s efforts to end impunity for embezzlers with Spanish legislators’ desire to excuse particularly grave crimes simply because they were committed by specific political leaders during a specific period of time,” the ruling reads.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Ana Ferrer proposed that Spain’s Supreme Court submit its ruling to the European Court of Justice to determine if its reasoning was correct. The rest of the magistrates rejected this option.

As a result of the ruling, the long-standing arrest warrant for Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium following the failed referendum, will remain in effect. Former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras and several other former regional officials will likewise remain barred from holding public office or being employed in any public capacity.

The separatist politicians are expected to appeal the ruling before the country’s Constitutional Court.

The ruling is a huge setback for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who was only able to form Spain’s current minority government last November after agreeing to amnesty Puigdemont and other Catalan separatists. While some judges had been expected to oppose the controversial bill, the Supreme Court’s rejection of the law marks the start of a major showdown between the country’s legislative and judicial branches.

“The will of the legislators must be respected,” Culture Minister Ernest Urtasun said. “And it must be applied in its entirety.”

Catalan leaders reacted to the news with irritation and cited the ruling as fresh evidence that the country’s judiciary acts in an absolutist and biased manner. On X, Puigdemont compared the Supreme Court judges to the Sicilian mafia, referring to them as “La Toga Nostra.”

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