Catalonia conflict: court lifts separatists’ immunity

Status: 07/30/2021 4:47 p.m.

The EU court has rejected an application by former Catalan Prime Minister Puigdemont and two other MPs to restore their parliamentary immunity. So they are stuck in Belgium for the time being.

Former Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan MEPs have been defeated in the struggle to maintain their parliamentary immunity. The Vice-President of the EU court in Luxembourg rejected a request for an interim order to restore immunity.

This means that the three MPs cannot invoke their parliamentary immunity to protect them from extradition to Spain. An arrest in the countries in which they are staying is “hypothetical” in the case of the three MEPs, the court said.

Final decision is expected in autumn

The court thus overturned its own June decision. At that time, the court had reinstated the immunity of Puigdemont and the former Catalan regional ministers Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, but only temporarily.

Until the decision on the main issue, which concerns the action of the politicians, to annul the lifting of their immunity by the EU Parliament, they can in fact hardly leave Belgium. Because Spain’s Supreme Court could reinstate a European arrest warrant against the three at any time, wrote the newspaper “El País”. A final decision by the EU court is expected in autumn.

Spain accuses the three of rebellion, among other things

The European Parliament passed a clear majority in March to lift the immunities of Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí. A request from the Spanish authorities to this effect was accepted. The separatists want to prosecute them.

After the banned independence referendum in October 2017 in Catalonia, several high-ranking politicians in the region, including Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí, fled abroad. Puigdemont has been President of the Autonomous Government since 2016. Comín and Ponsatí were temporarily members of the cabinet. Spain accuses them, among other things, of rebellion.

Belgium refused to extradite Puigdemont and Comín last year and suspended the execution of the Spanish arrest warrant with a view to the immunity of MPs.

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