A Spanish Socialist MEP compared Carles Puigdemont’s independence declaration in 2017 to the nazi invasion of Poland that started World War II and the assault on the US Capitol last week. Domènec Ruiz Devesa affirmed that the declaration following the referendum was “no joke,” in a debate surrounding the possibility of the European Parliament extending the list of crimes which can automatically bring extradition.

“The second World War started with a unilateral altering of a border. We saw what happened in the US Capitol, does it seem like a joke to you to attack the constitutional order?” the Socialist politician asked of the former Catalan president.

Spain has attempted to extradite president Carles Puigdemont and other former Catalan officials numerous times since they left the country in late 2017 following the independence push. However, the judiciaries have repeatedly rejected the requests against the former Catalan president as well as Lluís Puig, while Scottish courts have also backed Clara Ponsatí on the matter.

Debate on immunity

In the cases of Puigdemont and Ponsatí, the pair enjoy parliamentary immunity due to their statuses as MEPs, though this immunity is also being debated in European chambers. The Parliament will vote this week on a possible change to the extradition system that would allow for more crimes to be added to the list for which extradition requests can be automatically upheld. The list, among others, includes the crime “against constitutional integrity with violence.”

Greens / EFA MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield criticized the movement of some Spanish MEPs to include this offence in the list. “It is a dangerous step because it would put activists at risk,” she warned. Ruiz Devesa accused Delbos-Corfield of not wanting to include this crime on the list. “What Puigdemont or Ponsatí did is no joke, it is no joke to declare unilateral independence,” he said.

His party are in favour of making it a crime worthy of automatic extradition, in agreement with the People’s Party, Ciudadanos, and Vox.

Meanwhile, the commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, assured that the European Commission will look into whether new crimes need to be added to the list, but added that the current 32 “cover most crimes that states consider serious.”

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