The fate of the Catalan independent Boydemont is deprived of immunity at the hands of the Belgian judiciary

The fate of the independent deputy in the European Parliament and former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, is now in the hands of the Belgian courts, after his immunity was lifted on Tuesday by the European Parliament.

The head of the “Together for Catalonia” movement (UNITS, center-right), who is deprived of this immunity like two other members of the European Parliament, denounced “political persecution”, denounced “a sad day for the European Parliament” and democracy in the European Union. . Madrid welcomed the vote, saying it showed that “the problems of Catalonia were solved in Spain”.

Mr. Puigdemont’s life will become “complicated”, because he is denied the immunity enjoyed by members of the European Parliament, he and his Minister, “Tony Comin and Clara Ponsatti,” are no longer “protected,” a European official said on Tuesday.

The three members of the European Parliament were elected in 2019, and are being tried by Spanish courts for “inciting sedition,” and in the case of M. Boydemont and Comin add the charge of “misappropriation of public funds”.

Lifting their immunity paves the way for the judicial authorities of the countries in which they live in exile to review the arrest warrants issued against them by Spain. They are being tried for trying to secede from this wealthy region of northeastern Spain in 2017, after a banned referendum was held.

Carles Puigdemont and Tony Komen live in Belgium. On the other hand, Ms. Ponsatti’s case is subject to the judicial authorities in Scotland, where she was residing, which has suspended consideration of her extradition pending the decision of members of the European Parliament.

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This vote was met with satisfaction by the government of Socialist Pedro Sanchez and the leaders of the right-wing opposition.

They have obtained from the leaders of the three main groups whose elected representatives – the representatives of the European People’s Party, the Socialists and the Revitalized Liberals – are instructed to vote to lift the immunities. A majority of 354 out of 705 votes was required. 400 voted to deprive Carles Puigdemont of protection.

The European Parliament was even more forceful by voting on Tuesday to lift the immunity of an elected Portuguese and a Croat elected by 662 votes and 658 votes.

Stay in Belgium

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laia said the European Parliament vote “sends a triple message.”

The first is that “the problems of Catalonia are solved in Spain, not in Europe”. And she stressed that “this is the line adopted by the Spanish government, which is to communicate with the Catalan political forces to find a solution through dialogue and negotiations.”

The minister added that the other two messages relate to the fact that a member of the European Parliament “cannot take advantage of his status to avoid appearing before a national court” and to “the rigidity of the rule of law in Spain”.

“Today’s vote is about the values ​​we stand for, the idea we have about democracy and the future we want to build in Europe,” Carles Puigdemont warned on Twitter on Monday.

The lifting of parliamentary immunity is not the end of the story for Carles Puigdemont, as he announced his intention to turn to European justice. In January, Belgian courts refused to implement a European arrest warrant targeting another independent regional minister, Louis Puig, posing a “grave risk of violating his” right to a fair trial “in Spain.

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Several former Catalan leaders who stayed behind, such as Oriole Junqueras, the former vice president of the regional government of Carles Puigdemont, are serving heavy prison sentences in Spain for organizing the referendum.

But Carles Puigdemont’s freedom of movement would be seriously restricted, particularly his trips to Perpignan, in southern France, where he found his supporters. “If I had been in his place, I would not have left Belgium,” said an official in Parliament.

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