EU court refuses to restore ex-Catalan leader’s immunity

Ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has not been granted immunity.
Ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has not been granted immunity. Photo by François WALSCHAERTS / AFP
The European Union's General Court Friday refused to reinstate exiled ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont's European parliamentary immunity, saying he was not under immediate risk of arrest.

Spain has issued a European warrant against the 58-year-old exiled in Belgium over his role in Catalonia’s failed independence bid in 2017.

Puigdemont was elected to the European Parliament in 2019, which gave him immunity, but that was lifted by the parliament in March in a decision upheld in July by the EU’s General Court.

The same court on Friday again refused to restore his immunity or that of Toni Comin and Clara Ponsati, two former Catalan regional ministers who are also European lawmakers wanted by Spain.

The court said there was no reason to fear an arrest as the Spanish case against him had currently been suspended pending the decision on two preliminary questions before the European Court of Justice.

“The executing judicial authorities don’t intend to execute the European arrest warrants against the lawmakers before the court rules” on those issues, it said in a statement.

The ruling comes after Puigdemont was briefly detained on the Italian island of Sardinia in September.

Puigdemont’s arrest on a trip as MEP to a cultural festival in the town of Alghero — a Catalan enclave in Sardinia — was his third since fleeing Spain.

The first was when he arrived in Brussels and the second was in Germany in March 2018, when the courts took nearly four months to return him to full freedom.

Comin sought exile in Belgium in 2017, as did Puigdemont, while Ponsati lives in Scotland, where the judiciary this summer abandoned a procedure to have her extradited.

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