Spain: Supreme Court drops sedition charges against Carles Puigdemont

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday dropped sedition charges against separatist Carles Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia, after a reform of the country’s criminal code repealed the crime.

Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium to avoid prosecution in Spain, still faces charges of disobedience and embezzlement, which carry prison terms of up to eight years. Sedition was punishable by a maximum prison term of 15 years.

Previous attempts by Spain to extradite Puigdemont during his stays in Germany, Belgium and Italy have failed.

Spanish Supreme Court Justice Pablo Llarena said on Thursday he would submit a new extradition request to Belgian authorities to face trial on lesser charges, depending on court decisions. Europeans on Puigdemont’s immunity and on the possibility of requesting extradition several times.

Spain amended its penal code late last year to remove the landmark sedition law, under which some separatist politicians were sentenced to up to 13 years in prison, after the constitutional crisis caused in 2017 by the referendum on the independence of Catalonia and the unilateral proclamation of the Catalan Republic.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who later pardoned those convicted following the events, said the move should further ease the political conflict between Madrid and Catalonia. Opposition parties said the move was intended to ensure Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist-led coalition continued support from pro-independence parties in contentious parliamentary votes.

Carles Puigdemont, who has been in exile in Belgium since the end of 2017, has been a member of the European Parliament since 2019.

(Report Emma Pinedo, French version Augustin Turpin, edited by Blandine Hénault)

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