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EU Court decision leaves Catalan MEPs vulnerable to extradition

The former head of Catalonia's government Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan separatist MEPs have lost a legal battle to retain their parliamentary immunity, leaving them vulnerable to extradition to Spain.

The former head of Catalonia’s government Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan separatist MEPs have lost a legal battle to retain their parliamentary immunity, leaving them vulnerable to extradition to Spain.

The vice president of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on Friday rejected a request for a temporary injunction to restore immunity to Puigdemont and his fellow MEPs Toni Comin and Clara Ponsati.

The three Catalan separatist leaders fled Spain in 2017 after an independence referendum in Catalonia went ahead despite being banned. Spain accuses the three of sedition, among other crimes, but Belgium has refused to extradite them and suspended the Spanish arrest warrant in view of their parliamentary immunity.

In March, the European Parliament decided by a clear majority to lift the three MEPs’ immunity, paving the way for them to stand trial in Spain.

Until the decision in the main case, in which the three politicians seek to have the lifting of their immunity by the EU parliament pronounced null and void, they are effectively unable to leave Belgium without risking arrest.

Spain’s supreme court can reinstate the European arrest warrant at any time, according to Spanish daily El Pais. A final decision by the EU court is expected in the autumn.

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