Europe

Catalan separatist leader faces jail in Spain

MEPs have stripped the immunity of the former head of the government of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and two of his associates. Now they can be extradited to Spain, where they face prison for the 2017 independence referendum.

For the deprivation of Carles Puigdemont and his associates, former members of the government of Tony (Anthony) Comin and Clara Ponsati, a confident majority of the members of the parliament voted: in the case of Puigdemont — 400 votes in favor with 248 against, in the cases of Comin and Ponsati — 404 for and 247 vs.

The EU Parliament held a secret ballot on Monday evening, and the results were announced on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Puigdemont’s associates are negotiating the formation of a new government in Catalonia after winning in mid-February.

Puigdemont and Comyn were elected MEPs in the spring of 2019, and Ponsati joined them later when officially left the European Union, and its quota in the European Parliament was partially distributed among various EU countries, including Spain.

Now the courts of the countries where the fugitives live — Belgium and Britain (Scotland) — will again decide the issue of their extradition to Madrid. Until now, they have refused to do so, referring, among other things, to the immunity of the Catalans as members of the European Parliament. In addition, the Spanish government has already applied to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Three Catalan politicians are also going to file with the European Court — they announced this at a press conference on Tuesday.

“Only the European Court will be able to compensate for the damage to democracy caused by the fact that three MEPs are deprived of immunity for political reasons,” the Catalan press quotes Puigdemont.

“This is a sad day for the European Parliament. We have lost our immunity, but the European Parliament has lost even more, and European democracy has also suffered losses,” said Puigdemont.

Official Madrid, represented by Foreign Minister Aranci Gonzalez Laya, welcomed the decision of the European Parliament.



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