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Puigdemont asks Brussels to look into Spanish judiciary’s impartiality

Puigdemont asks Brussels to look into Spanish judiciary’s impartiality

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Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín accused Spain’s General Council of the Judiciary of violating “basic standards of the rule of law” in a letter sent to European Commission Vice President and Values and Transparency Commissioner Věra Jourová on Monday.

In the letter, exclusively obtained by POLITICO, Puigdemont and Comín argue that the body, which oversees Spain’s judiciary, is not impartial and has repeatedly overstepped its legal attributions.

As evidence, Puigdemont and Comín cite an institutional declaration issued by the General Council in which its members express concern over the possibility that an amnesty may be granted to people prosecuted for their involvement in the failed 2017 Catalan independence referendum.

The lawmakers argue the declaration runs afoul of Spanish law barring judges from publicly supporting or rejecting acts of political authorities. They also consider the General Council overstepped its authority by assessing the amnesty’s compatibility with Spain’s Constitution — an analysis reserved for the country’s Constitutional Court — and by proffering an opinion on a legislative text being proposed within the parliament.

In the letter, Puigdemont and Comín also raise concerns over the declaration’s publication on November 6 — a week before Spain’s Socialist Party filed its controversial Catalan separatist amnesty bill — and cite the text’s references to an “alleged” Catalan conflict and its characterization of Puigdemont as “a fugitive” as evidence of an “overt bias against the Catalans.”

Puigdemont and Comín conclude by urging Jourová to include the General Council’s declaration in the Commission’s Annual Report on the Rule of Law.

The Commission has repeatedly raised concerns over the state of the General Council of the Judiciary, whose mandate expired in December 2018.

The body, which is currently dominated by a majority of judges appointed by the center-right Popular Party, has been operating on an interim basis for the past five years because the ruling Socialist Party and the opposition cannot reach a consensus on its makeup.

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