The Spanish National Court (AN) has issued a report which is against granting a pardon to rapper Pablo Hasél. He is serving several prison sentences for alleged glorification of terrorism and insulting the Spanish monarchy in various tweets and song lyrics, a criminal offense according to the crimes of opinion. The application of this law has long been questioned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The Spanish court considers that “there are no grounds of justice, equity or public utility” for granting the pardon and for this reason “issues an unfavorable report,” though the final decision will be made by the Spanish government. The judges believe that Hasél does not deserve the pardon due to his “antisocial attitude” revealed by the singer’s other convictions, which are both for other crimes of opinion – insults to the Crown and State institutions.
Hasél’s imprisonment caused a week of riots in Catalonia and this prompted the Spanish government to promise to lessen the penalties for crimes of opinion, a promise that has not been fulfilled 8 months later.
Spain’s State Legal Office has asked the General Court of the European Union (EGC) to reject the precautionary measures requested by exiled Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to restore his immunity as MEP. This move comes after the defense team of exiled President requested the precautionary measures at the EU General Court on October 1st, following his short arrest on the Island of Sardinia, Italy, after Spain requested his extradition.
In July, Spanish Justice and the State Legal Office lied to the General Court (EGC) by assuring them that the extradition orders against exiled Catalan leaders had been suspended. The court trusted them and decided to deny the precautionary measures to the Catalan leaders at that time, arguing that there was no risk of detention. However, it left the door open to granting them immunity again if their situation changed and any member state of the EU arrested them, as happened with Puigdemont by the end of September. The EGC is now expected to grant him immunity again in the next few weeks or months.
Gonzalo Boye, one of Puigdemont’s lawyers, told reporters that Puigdemont was asking for precautionary measures because Spanish justice was not willing to “guarantee his rights” as an MEP. He also said that he believes that Spain will be sanctioned by EU Justice for misleading a EU Court.
The Polish government has justified the controversial and authoritarian ruling of its Constitutional Court on the primacy of national laws over EU laws, arguing that Spain did the same in the case regarding the seat as MEP and immunity of former Catalan political prisoner Oriol Junqueras, despite the fact that according to EU treaties, EU laws have primacy over national ones.
In a press conference, Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawiecki, reminded the journalists that in the case of Junqueras, Spanish courts concluded that the EU institutions “sometimes” exceed their powers and clash with state legislation. He referred to the lawsuits filed in both the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) and the Spanish Supreme Court over the immunity of Junqueras.
EU courts ruled that he had immunity as an MEP and therefore had to be released and be able to travel to Strasbourg to get his accreditation. However, the Spanish Supreme Court did not authorize him to do so, arguing that immunity in Spanish legislation does not apply when a trial has begun before an election.
Poland now affirms that this case gives them legitimacy to do the same and remain a Member State of the EU.
On Tuesday, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled that the arrest warrants against exiled Catalan leaders are active despite the fact that Spanish authorities informed the EU Court of Justice that they were suspended, a lie that is expected to have serious consequences for the Spanish state. This ruling, however, will not have any immediate impact on the extradition procedures against Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí in Italy and Belgium, where the proceedings have already been suspended by national courts, pending EU court decisions on their immunity as MEPs and the Luxembourg court’s response to the questions raised by Spain’s Supreme Court over the European arrest warrant system in March.
The EU Court of Justice lifted the immunity of Puigdemont as MEP in spring, pending the resolution of an appeal, arguing that there was no risk of detention against him after Spanish authorities informed the court that his extradition order was suspended. However, the court said that immunity could be provisionally granted again if he faced the risk of arrest again. Thus, following his detention in Sardinia on September 23, the exiled President’s lawyers requested that the EU Court restore his immunity on October 1, pending a final decision on the issue.
Germany, Belgium, Scotland, and Italy have refused to extradite exiled leaders Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí, Toni Comín, and Lluís Puig on several occasions since 2017.
The Italian Democratic Senators Roberto Rampi and Gianni Marilotti have called on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for concrete action against arbitrary detentions that violate fundamental rights. This comes after exiled Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was arrested on the island of Sardinia, Italy, last week.
Both senators called for the protection of the freedom of expression of citizens and representatives, and said that “the clear will of the Catalan people to claim their independence cannot be treated as a subversive and criminal act,” but there must be a “political weighting” in the European integration framework. They also called for the Catalan issue to leave the judicial and repressive dimension and return to a political scope.
The rapporteur for the Council of Europe (CoE) on the 2017 independence referendum, Boris Cilevics, noted with “concern” the arrest of Carles Puigdemont in Italy. In a message on social media, the Latvian MP recalled that a resolution of the Council called on the Spanish authorities to “abandon extradition proceedings against Catalan politicians living abroad [exiles] as those convicted for their role in the 2017 referendum were partially pardoned last summer,” he said.