Puigdemont loses court bid to have parliamentary immunity reinstated

Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont has lost a court bid to have his parliamentary immunity from prosecution reinstated.

Puigdemont, an MEP, is wanted in Spain on sedition charges linked to the holding of an independence referendum in Catalonia

He fled Belgium in October 2017, fearing arrest after holding the Catalonia independence referendum.

In March, MEPs overwhelmingly agreed to strip the immunity of Puigdemont, and two of his associates, former Catalan health minister Toni Comín and former regional education Minister Clara Ponsatí.

This is the second time the Luxembourg-based General Court of the European Union has rejected Puigdemont’s request to suspend the lifting of his immunity.

His latest appeal came days after he was arrested in Sicily with Italian authorities acting on the European Arrest Warrant. A local judge however postponed his extradition hearing until the EU’s Court of Justice ruled on his immunity.

The Vice-President of the General Court noted on Friday that the criminal proceedings initiated against the three Spanish MEPs are currently suspended “until the (European Union) Court has ruled on the request for a preliminary ruling” issued by the Spanish Supreme Court.

“He also confirms that, given that that request concerns the execution of the European arrest warrants issued in the criminal proceedings at issue, suspension of those proceedings necessarily calls for the suspension of the execution of those warrants,” the Court’s statement states.

It adds that “the executing judicial authorities do not intend to execute the European arrest warrants relating to the MEPs before the Court of Justice has given judgment in that case and that, therefore, they do not run, at this stage, the risk of surrender to the Spanish authorities.”

The Vice-President concluded that there was therefore “no urgent need to order suspension of operation of the decisions of the Parliament.”

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