Carles Puigdemont. AFP
Puigdemont amnesty rejected and arrest warrant still stands in Spain

Puigdemont amnesty rejected and arrest warrant still stands in Spain

Supreme Court says former Catalan president cannot be let off charge of embezzlement but the government doesn't share the judges' arguments



Friday, 5 July 2024, 13:01

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The former president of Catalonia looks to be a long way away from the smooth return to Spain as he had hoped. Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-exile in Belgium to avoid arrest for moves towards Catalan independence in 2017, had been expecting to be the headline beneficiary of the government's controversial amnesty law for offences related to that period - along with hundreds of others of lesser standing, some of whom are already successfully having sentences overturned.

On Monday this week the Supreme Court ruled that one of the charges against Puigdemont - embezzlement of public funds - could not be included in the amnesty law.

The decision means he cannot return in time for the regional parliament debate on a new Catalan president without the risk of being arrested. A final appeal can be made to Spain's constitutional court by Puigdemont but it is not a quick process.

The Supreme Court argued as part of two linked rulings that the use of public money to fund a non-official referendum amounted to embezzlement, frowned on heavily by the European Union.

The move increased pressure on the national government that relies on the seven votes of the Junts party of Puigdemont to stay in power. Minister of Justice Félix Bolaños said he did not share "either the political arguments or the legal arguments" of the Supreme Court.

Puigdemont is also facing a fresh investigation from a Barcelona judge over supposed high treason involving Russia.

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