Carles Puigdemont is the Catalan president that fled Spain after the Spanish Supreme Court ordered his arrest for declaring independence of Catalonia from Spain.

El Pais explains that Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena

has been heading up the main judicial probe into the actions of Puigdemont and other pro-independence politicians last year, when the regional government held an illegal referendum on Catalonia’s secession from Spain, before unilaterally declaring independence in parliament.

The article claims that Puigdemont and his lawyers are suing Llarena in a Belgium court:

Puigdemont is demanding a symbolic payment of one euro from the judge should he win the case.

(Another article making similar claims about the case from the same paper, in Spanish, was published a few weeks later.)

I find it extraordinary that a court case over 1 Euro would be tolerated by a Belgian judge, and not be considered an abuse of process.

Is the case actually being fought over a single Euro?

  • 2
    Isn't the reason explained in the quote? It's symbolic. One example that seems similar is the time when Taylor Swift sued for "a single symbolic dollar". – Laurel Sep 13 '18 at 20:48
  • At the moment, this question seems to be more a "Explain the motivation of Puidgemont" (which is an off-topic question) and less about "Has the court been asked to find the [unnamed in the question] Judge 1€?" If the question really is that you doubt the claim, let's edit it to focus just on that, and not on the opinion-based issues of whether the legal system is broken and/or being exploited. – Oddthinking Sep 14 '18 at 3:53
  • To be exact, he is being charged with rebellion (which implies violence) and missappropiation of public money. That is different to "declaring independence". An interesting question of that matter is the following: How the hell the precise paragraph of the declaration was allegedly poorly translated, changing the original conditional one phrase (saying "if that was the case and they did it, it should be investigated") into an affirmative one (saying "that is the case, they did it, and we must investigate it"). Source (ES): elmundo.es/espana/2018/08/28/5b84567d46163f587d8b457a.html – bradbury9 Sep 14 '18 at 9:48
  • @Oddthinking The claim of the sue seems to be false (imho Puigdemont's lawyers dishonestly altered what the judge said), and most likely would be discharged. What the judge said is "si es que ha sido así, pues tienen que ser investigados/If it has been like that, they have to be investigated" and the sue states "et oui c'est ce qui s'est produit, il faut faire une enquête/and yes that's what happened, an investigation has to be made". Now the french translator and the lawyers are arguing about whose fault it is ;-) – bradbury9 Sep 14 '18 at 10:01
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    @bradbury9: AFAICT, it doesn't matter whether the suit is won or lost, nor does it matter why it is won or lost. The question (I think!) is "Is there a a suit for the sum of 1 Euro?" – Oddthinking Sep 14 '18 at 14:15

Yes, but that's not the main goal

In this article in De Standaard, the main reason given by the lawyers is that they want the judge to admit that the conviction of Puigdemont and co was for a political crime:

‘Politieke misdrijven vallen niet onder het strafrecht. Door te verklaren dat het hier niet om een politiek misdrijf gaat, is de rechter bevooroordeeld’, zegt Paul Bekaert, een van de advocaten van de vijf Catalaanse politici

translates to

'Political crimes do not fall under Criminal Law. By testifying that this case is not about a political crime, the judge is predisposed', says Paul Bekaert, one of the lawyers of the five Catalan Politicians

This would allow them to demand a substitution (wraking in dutch), which brings along possibilities like nullifying their earlier conviction etc. This reasoning is found serious enough by the court in Brussels to allow the case to be introduced (which is not the same as going to full trial). It's not clear, however, that they can even get past the immunity clause of the judge, since judges in Europe cannot be convicted for anything they say as part of their job in another country than the one where they did said job. Puigdemont's lawyers are making the case that it wasn't as part of their job, since he made some comments to a journalist.

But yes, they also demanded one symbolic euro.

  • Thanks for your answer, DonFusili. I read the article (het is al heel lang geleden dat ik in Belgie heb gewoont en ik begrijp het Vlaams niet meer zo goed). I do not understand your first sentence "the main reason given by the lawyers is that they want the judge to admit that the conviction of Puigdemont and co was for a political crime". Which judge do you mean? The Spanish one, Llarena, or the Belgium ones? I do not see anywhere in the article that they are demanding that Llarena admits that he wants the Catalan politicians to be arrested for political crimes. – KlausN Sep 17 '18 at 15:09
  • I also do not see anywhere in the article that the Catalan politicians want the Belgium judges to admit that the conviction (there was no conviction, there is an arrest warrant and an investigation that has been opened) was for a political crime. – KlausN Sep 17 '18 at 15:35
  • I do understand the political motivation for presenting such a case, but you still have to argue formally to convince the court to accept your case. The only formal demand I find in the article is "De vijf Catalaanse politici [...] eisen een symbolische euro schadevergoeding, omdat [...]" that is, "The five Catalan politicians demand one symbolic Euro for suffered damages, because [...]" I find it really extremely surprising that this gets accepted (even in Belgium hehe). I guess the value of your case is also used to determine the fees you have to pay to the court... – KlausN Sep 17 '18 at 15:37
  • The judge (Llarena) never said he wants the Catalan politicians arrested for political crimes, that would be illegal. He said in an interview with a Spanish newspaper that they are not in political asylum. Since he's the judge in their case, this means he's not impartial because it's the main position of the defense that they are political refugees. If he's not impartial, he's unfit to judge their case, so the court order to have them extradited to Spain would be invalid. – DonFusili Sep 18 '18 at 7:19
  • Also: while I fully understand jabs at politics in Belgium (which tries to manage a federal system without hierarchy), I can't recall even one medium to high profile case in Belgian law that would support the "even in Belgium" regarding our judical system. We have pretty high minimum requirements to start a trial. Getting hung up about the one euro when they can have a chance at freedom at home (if they are deemed to have a case) seems borderline cynical to me. – DonFusili Sep 18 '18 at 7:23

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