Catalan ex-leader Puigdemont regains MEP immunity

File photo. (L-R) Catalan MEPs Antoni Comin, Carles Puigdemont and Clara Ponsati join a protest after the European Parliament voted to waive their immunity in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 9 March 2021. [Stephanie Lecocq/EPA/EFE]

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and two fellow pro-independence allies on Wednesday (2 June) regained provisional political immunity as members of the European Parliament, an EU court ruled.

Just days before a European Parliament plenary session, the Luxembourg-based EU General Court provisionally suspended the lifting of Puigdemont’s parliamentary immunity along with that of former Catalan regional ministers Toni Comin and Clara Ponsati.

In March, the European Parliament had lifted the immunity of the trio, wanted by Spain on allegations of sedition following Catalonia’s attempt to gain independence in 2017 via a referendum which Madrid ruled constitutionally illegal.

Puigdemont and Comin are additionally accused of embezzlement.

That decision opened up the possibility of extradition requests from Spain’s supreme court but the three vowed to take the case to the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, saying that they ran the risk of jail which would prevent them from exercising their mandate as elected European lawmakers.

They said that risk would notably apply were they to attend Monday’s plenary session in Strasbourg.

Puigdemont, Belgian-based since the 2017 vote, had accused EU authorities of “political persecution” on losing his immunity.

All three were elected as MEPs in 2019, giving them immunity from prosecution.

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