Far-right Spanish party calls Belgium ‘failed state’ after suspension of extradition of ousted Catalan leader
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Far-right Spanish party calls Belgium ‘failed state’ after suspension of extradition of ousted Catalan leader

Credit: © Belga

A far-right Spanish party has called Belgium a “failed state” and a “haven for terrorists and separatists” following a decision by a Belgian court to suspend an arrest warrant against two exiled Catalan leaders wanted by Madrid.

The nationalist and ultraconservative Vox party lashed out against the decision by a Brussels judge to dismiss the warrant against former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, calling it “unacceptable” and referring to Belgium as a “failed state.”

“It is unacceptable for an instrumentalised foreign court to question our sovereignty and our rule of law,” the party wrote on its Twitter account.

“Belgium has become a failed state and a safe haven for separatists and terrorists,” the Tweet continued, before calling for the “immediate” suspension of diplomatic relations, in a Tweet accompanied by a hashtag reading: Sovereign Spain.

The ruling on Thursday concerned Puigdemont and Toni Comin, a former minister of the semiautonomous Spanish region serving in Puigdemont’s cabinet.

Puigdemont announced the court’s decision on Thursday, with his lawyer confirming that it was made on the grounds of a recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) saying a Catalan leader imprisoned in Spain enjoyed immunity after being elected as an MEP.

Puigdemont’s lawyer said the CJEU ruling had guided the Brussels judge’s decision to suspend of the arrest warrant against Puigdemont and Comin.

Vox president Santiago Abascal doubled down on his party’s criticism of the ruling, which marked the third time a Belgian court rejected or barred an extradition request against Puigdemont, who fled Spain in 2017 following a secessionist push declared illegal by Madrid.

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“Living among criminals, one starts failing to recognise them,” Abascal tweeted, referring to a previous decision by a Belgian court to refuse extradition of a man —accused by Spain of belonging to the ETA Basque separatist group and of murdering a lieutenant— citing lack of sufficient evidence.

“We cannot continue treating as partners a country which collaborates with the enemies of Spain,” Abascal said, compounding another tweet by Vox, who sits in the same EP group as the Nieuw Vlaamse Alliantie, which slammed Belgium as a “disloyal” and “hostile partner in the EU.”

The suspension of the arrest warrant on Thursday also came with a suspension of the precautionary measures Puigdemont was subject to, including a prohibition to leave the country without authorisation, according to Spanish media.

In order to restart proceedings against the Catalan pair, the Spanish Supreme Court would have to ask the European Parliament to waive the MEP’s parliamentary immunity.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times