“Hug” is a sip from Madrid from Barcelona. Spain has met with mixed feelings about the European Parliament’s decision to withdraw immunity from three Catalan MEPs. Acting Catalan vice president Pere Aragères criticized the vote’s outcome and assured Carls Puigdemont, Tony Komin and Clara Ponsetti of their solidarity. However, Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laía made the announcement on Tuesday morning, when the result was known: The message was clear that an MEP should not use his position to avoid national courts.
The fact that the withdrawal of immunity in Barcelona has been criticized is not surprising: leftist Republican Arragius is busy forming a new government in Catalonia, which he intends to preside over as regional president. In the February 14 election, the separatists again won an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament. It is now up to Aragon to negotiate a new alliance with separatists from Catalonia’s party. And despite the exile of Belgium, the chief of June, per Catsynia, is Carles Puigdemont.
However, from the Spanish government’s point of view, Puigdemont is a judicial refugee who needed a European arrest warrant. It was Puigdemont who, as president of the Catalan regional government, held an independence referendum on October 1, 2017, although it was previously banned by the Spanish Constitutional Court. The Spanish judiciary has accused him of a criminal offense, in addition to the riots, which does not exist in many other countries and has a long prison sentence in Spain. Puigdemont Vice-President Orol Junqueras at the time was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
The leftist populists of Unidas Podemos, who were part of the Madrid government, are the biggest critics of these harsh sentences. Ironically, on Monday evening, you voted against increasing immunity in the EU Parliament. A total of 400 to 404 MPs voted in three votes to withdraw the immunity and against 247 or 248. This meant that prominence was significantly tighter than the two other immunity decisions that took place on the same evening. Clara Poncetti wrote on Twitter that the result gave her hope and strength for the next fight.
All three have a good chance of not getting extradited
Despite heated discussions about pardoning convicted separatists in Spain, the government in Madrid on Tuesday welcomed increased immunity. Now the European arrest warrant can be executed and the conflict can be transferred from the international arena to the national legal framework in which it is from Madrid’s point of view according to the Foreign Ministry.
Puigdemont and Comin were elected to the European Parliament for 2019, while proceedings in Spain were pending for holding an independence referendum against them. Two politicians live in Belgium, Clara Ponsati in Scotland. Spain had applied for his extradition, but the requests were refused with reference to parliamentary immunity. After the immunity was removed, the three MEPs would hold their seats in the European Parliament; Whether they have actually been extradited to Spain is in the hands of the judiciary.
And here the trio can count on good opportunities. At least two months ago, a Brussels appealed court ruled that Lulis Puig – another former member of the Catalan regional government – should not be transferred. Belgian prosecutors decided not to decide, which should have ultimately rejected Spain’s request. The judges argued that due to the warm mood, presumption of innocence was in jeopardy.
There were formal reasons for the Parliament’s decision for immunity: criminal proceedings commenced before the three were elected to the European Parliament and the prosecution was “clearly unrelated” to their activities as MEPs, according to the ruling. Puigdemont said on Tuesday that it was “a sad day” for the European Parliament: “This is a clear case of political persuasion.” His lawyers are considering taking the decision of the European Court of Justice.
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