Another reaction to Tuesday’s vote at the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs in favour of removing parliamentary immunity from exiled Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his two fellow pro-independence MEPs, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, came from Ponsatí’s Scottish lawyer, Aamer Anwar:

 

According to Anwar, “it comes as no surprise that a committee chaired by the member of a far-right party and dominated by Spanish delegates has voted to remove the immunity” but he also warns that “the only decision that counts is the vote before the full plenary of the European Parliament around 8th March 2021”. On Tuesday, 15 representatives voted in favor, 8 against and 2 abstained, but the vote is only advisory.

Anwar thinks that “it would be a very dangerous precedent and cowardly act for European democracy, if despite evidence of politically motivated prosecutions, they took away the Catalan MEPs legal immunity because of pressure from Spain”. And he adds: “Time and time again in the European Courts the Spanish authorities have failed. These warrants are tantamount to political revenge and reflect a desperate Spain trying to destroy the independence movement, yet all they have done is reignite the struggle for freedom. Meanwhile Spain’s international image is in tatters and reduced to one of a rogue state”.

Following their appointment as European representatives, the extradition requests of Puigdemont, Ponsatí and Comín by Spain were frozen because they began to enjoy privileges as MEPs – yet, the Spanish judiciary has been for a year requesting that they lose these privileges so the procedure which could end up in them being handed over to Spain can continue. “Any attempt to remove immunity can only be seen as cynical move, that will be challenged in the courts”, concludes Anwar.

As for Ponsati’s Scottish extradition hearing, it has now been adjourned to May 4th at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

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