The Supreme Court has ruled that bank customers who previously negotiated a reduction in the floor clauses in their mortgage loans – abusive clauses that set a minimum rate below which the interest could not fall no matter how low reference rates dropped – still maintain their right to file lawsuits demanding a full refund of the amounts unduly charged due to the floor clauses. The ruling came in a case in Pamplona. By Oliver McIntyre DEPOSED Cataluña president Carles Puigdemont and four of his former cabinet members have been scheduled for an extradition hearing in Belgium on November 17 after they turned themselves in to authorities there last week following Spain’s issuance of a warrant for their arrest.
After appearing before a judge, all five were released and ordered to remain in Belgium pending the extradition hearing.
Spanish authorities had issued the European arrest warrant after Puigdemont and the former cabinet members failed to appear for a hearing at Spain’s High Court last Thursday, where they had been called to testify as part of an investigation into alleged rebellion, sedition and other offences in relation to Cataluña’s illegal declaration of independence.
Of the nine other former members of Puigdemont’s cabinet who did appear at the hearing, eight were ordered to jail as the investigation continues, while one, Santi Vila, was released on €50,000 bail. Vila had resigned from Puigdemont’s government the day before the regional parliament on October 27 unilaterally declared Cataluña’s independence, which prompted the Spanish government to take administrative control of the region, dissolve the Catalan parliament and call early regional elections for December 21.
The former speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, and five other parliamentary officials, who are also under investigation for rebellion and sedition, were scheduled to testify last Thursday at the Supreme Court, but the court agreed to postpone their hearing until November 9, to give them more time to prepare.
While former Catalan president Puigdemont’s extradition hearing is set for November 17, the appeals he can file with higher courts in Belgium could draw out the process at least two months, taking it beyond the date of the regional elections in Cataluña. Meanwhile, he has said he will be campaigning for those elections from Belgium.
On Tuesday, he held an event with some 200 separatist mayors from Cataluña who travelled to Brussels to show their support for him. Speaking at the event, he denounced what he described as "fascism" in Spain, and called on EU leaders to accept whatever results come out of the Catalan elections.
One of Puigdemont's jailed former cabinet members, Oriol Junqueras, who was vice-president of the Catalan government, has requested that the High Court release him and his seven colleagues in order to allow them to campaign for the elections.
Through his lawyer, he argued that their confinement is “profoundly disproportionate”.
Both Junqueras’ ERC party and Puigdemont’s PDe CAT party, which were partners in the separatist Catalan government, have said they plan to include all of the jailed cabinet members, and those awaiting the extradition hearing in Belgium, on their candidate lists for the elections.
However, the two parties will not run together as a coalition in the elections as they did last time.
Meanwhile, the economic impacts of the sovereignty crisis appear to be emerging in Cataluña. In October, for the first time in years, the region posted the highest unemployment increase in Spain in absolute terms, with 14,700 new jobless.
The economic impact extends to broader Spain as well, with the government having reduced its GDP growth predictions for 2018, from 2.6% down to 2.3%.
Carles Puigdemont with separatist mayors who travelled to Brussels from Cataluña