Immunity of Catalan pro-independence MEPs provisionally restored

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) grants status to Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí

VilaWeb
Montserrat Serra
24.05.2022 - 15:55
Actualització: 13.06.2022 - 10:05

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has provisionally restored the parliamentary immunity of Catalan pro-independence MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Antoni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí. The Junts per Catalunya politicians, who became MEPs in 2019 but are still wanted in Spain for organizing the 2017 independence vote, lost their parliamentary immunity in March 2021.

Their legal team then appealed the decision made by a majority of MEPs before the EU court. In June, Puigdemont recovered his parliamentary privileges, before then losing them again in July in a provisional decision that made his defense team believe the arrest warrants against the exiled Catalan president were suspended.

Yet, when judges made that decision, they suggested that privileges could be provisionally granted again if Puigdemont faced the risk of arrest. Thus, following his detention, the politician’s lawyers requested the European Court of Justice to recover his immunity.  The decision from the European Court of Justice on Tuesday annuls the one from the General Court and suspends the decision from the European parliament to lift the immunity of the three Junts per Catalunya members.

Arrest warrant withdrawal?

The Court of Justice ruled that the request from the pro-independence MEPs “complied with urgent requirements,” and the fact that they have not yet been detained, “does not rule out that they can be,” the judges’ decision reads. The European arrest warrants system is intended “in itself, to pursue the detention of those people matching the descriptions,” therefore “there is a great probability that the person can be detained,” the CJEU decision reads.

“Judge Llarena will have to comply with the CJEU’s decision and withdraw the European arrest warrants across the EU,” Gonzalo Boye, Carles Puigdemont’s lawyer, said to media outlets on Tuesday.  He was happy with the decision as it is “very important” as it acknowledges they were right when they claimed that the immunity should not have been lifted for the members of the European Parliament.

Puigdemont was the Catalan president in 2017 and the person who decided to go ahead with an independence referendum deemed unconstitutional by Spain. The Catalan parliament declared independence on the last day of his mandate before being sacked by the Spanish government, on October 27, 2017.

Three days later, he was included in a criminal case put forward by the public prosecutor, but while this lawsuit was announced, the very same day it was learned that he had gone into exile in Belgium.

Spain’s judiciary has been unable to extradite him or any other exiled pro-independence leader for over four years because neither Belgium, Germany, Italian or Switzerland have accepted it.

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