Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí, three exiled Catalan politicians serving as members of the European Parliament, have recovered their political immunity following a provisional ruling by the European General Court. Exiled Catalan president Puigdemont and his two colleagues, all of whom were elected in the European election as members of the pro-independence Junts per Catalunya party, were stripped off their parliamentary rights last March, after a majority of fellow MEPs in the chamber voted in favor.

The three politicians, who left Catalonia for Belgium in the fall of 2017 fearing imprisonment for their role in the independence referendum, challenged the European Parliament decision to the European General Court, sitting in Luxembourg. With Spanish courts having repeatedly tried to extradite the three politicians to judge them, the EU court’s ruling suggests that their goal may continue to prove elusive.

Speaking after the EU parliament voted to strip him off his immunity, Puigdemont regretted the implications of the decision for European democracy. “We’ve lost our immunity but the European Parliament has lost much more. It’s clearly political persecution”, he said. In the vote to lift Puigdemont’s immunity, 400 MEPs sided in favor of doing it, 248 against, and 45 representatives abstained.

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