MEPs weigh Spain's request to lift Catalan separatists' immunityPTI | Strasbourg | Updated: 16-01-2020 15:35 IST | Created: 16-01-2020 15:32 IST
The European Parliament began on Thursday debating a Spanish request to lift the immunity of two Catalan separatist MEPs wanted by Madrid. "This request has been submitted to the JURI (legal affairs) committee" to examine the request against the two Catalan lawmakers, Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin, said Ewa Kopacz, one of the parliament's vice presidents.
The process could last for months. Puigdemont, the former leader of the separatist movement of Spain's Catalonia regions that includes Barcelona, has been living in self-exile in Belgium to escape a Spanish arrest warrant over his organization of a banned 2017 referendum on independence.
He took up his European Parliament seat on Monday under a European Court of Justice ruling last month that decided that his and Comin's immunity as MEPs kicked in on their election last May. That judgment applied also to another elected Catalan ally, Oriol Junqueras, who was detained in Spain and convicted in October, and who is now serving a 13-year jail sentence.
The European Parliament removed Junqueras's mandate in line with a later ruling from Spain's Supreme Court, leaving him in jail. The legislature often receives requests to lift MEPs' immunity from prosecution. It does not always agree to them but does accede in the majority of cases.
Whatever decision the parliament's legal affairs committee ends up making will be subject to a vote by the entire assembly for final approval.
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