EU court freezes move to lift Catalan separatist MEPs’ immunity – POLITICO



The vice president of the EU’s General Court on Wednesday suspended a move by the European Parliament to strip the immunity of Catalan separatist MEPs.

The European Parliament voted in March to strip the parliamentary immunity of the three Catalan MEPs, who are facing sedition charges in Spain for their roles in organizing a 2017 independence referendum.

The MEPs — former regional leader Carles Puigdemont, former regional health official Antoni Comín, and former education official Clara Ponsatí — had requested intervention from the court, arguing that the Parliament had not guaranteed their ability to execute their rights as representatives of EU citizens.

They argued there was a real and imminent risk that they could be detained and even jailed due to the Parliament’s decisions and returned to Spain, which would prevent them from representing EU citizens during their mandates.

They said this would cause “serious and irreparable damage” and that their likely arrest or restrictions to their freedom of movement would “violate their right to perform their duties as MEPs.” As the Parliament is planning a plenary session in Strasbourg starting June 7, they said they would be at risk of arrest if they traveled to France.

Puigdemont and allies fled to Belgium after the 2017 vote, which Spanish courts had declared unconstitutional, and Belgian courts have previously blocked the extradition of former Catalan leaders.

The Spanish government moved aggressively to prosecute cases related to the 2017 referendum and some former officials were convicted of sedition and sentenced to up to 13 years in prison. But the crackdown has done little to dampen the independence movement in Catalonia and pro-independence parties won a majority in regional elections in February.

The EU court’s vice president agreed to suspend the move to lift the MEPs’ immunity, saying “if they are founded, the factual and legal allegations of the representatives justify maintaining the status quo until the Vice-President examines the allegations of the parties in more detail” and makes a final decision.

Puigdemont posted a triumphant-looking photo on Twitter of himself with Ponsatí and Comín with the hashtag #NoSurrender.

Comín tweeted: “One more victory before the European courts! And it will not be the last.”





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