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Article by lawyer Gonzalo Boye, who represents the three pro-independence Catalan MEPs who this week have had their parliamentary immunity restored by an EU court.

 

The recent decision by the vice president of the General Court of the European Union (EGC) is, by definition, provisional, so it is an interim measure; even going further, in this case, to be an urgent interim measure, so the battle cannot be considered won. But we can affirm that, prima facie, we have a good case for the defence of the rights of the Catalan MEPs, their voters and all those who continue to believe in democracy and judicial certainty.

The resolution was adopted inaudita parte - that is, without waiting to hear the arguments of the other party, in this case the European Parliament - and what it does is establish, prima facie, that, on the one hand, the fundamental reasons for which we are asking for the annulment of the decision of March 9th this year, under which the Parliament lifted the immunity of president Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, are well founded, and on the other hand, that had it not suspended Parliament's decision, the damage could have been irreparable, since at any time the European Arrest Warrants that are the basis of the Spanish judge's request to Parliament could be reactivated.

Now, what is genuinely significant here is that the basis for the main demand, which will be the mother of all the legal battles that we have waged in Europe, rests substantially on the following: that the reasons for which the immunity request was made, and the reasons that the handover of the MEPs to Spain is demanded, are nothing more than a political persecution urged by a court which is not competent to rule on those matters.

But our demand is not only based on political persecution, but also on a series of violations of fundamental rights and arbitrariness committed by and in the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), under the incompetent baton of Adrián Vázquez, who knows as much about law as I do about classical Japanese dance.

Hundreds of pages of statements, thousands of pages of evidential documents and a series of finalized and millimetrically-calculated legal arguments that were, continuously and arbitrarily, dismissed, ignored, silenced and hidden by Adrián Vázquez and his team. What he never wanted to understand is that everything we were presenting, saying and doing was not "procedural filibustering", as it was called by more than a few, but rather studied movements of pieces on a complex board that he was always unable to understand... He probably still thinks he did a good job.

On the basis of all this, we have articulated a principal demand, which is pending resolution by the court, and a request for interim measures, which is precisely what we have just been granted, through an understanding that, prima facie, there is a case and we have solid arguments for them to rule in our favour.

On the same day that the Spanish Constitutional Court denied the appeals of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, the EU's General Court considers that, over the same facts, there are, 'prima facie', reasons to understand that we have before us a political persecution and a violation of fundamental rights

The unfortunate thing about all this is that we have had to go so far and suffer so many misunderstandings and attacks before being able to transmit how serious, signficant and binding Union law is and how absurd and contradictory it is that, while all this is achieved outside Spain, the discussion here continues on whether or not the Catalan politicians are MEPs. Yes, the third chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court - the one that, in case of appeal, will have to decide on the pardons - continues to maintain that they have not reached that condition, because they never went to swear on the Constitution in Madrid.

It is just as appalling that, on the same day that the Constitutional Court denied the appeals of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, the EGC considers that, over the same facts, there are, prima facie, reasons to understand that we have before us a political persecution and a violation of fundamental rights... But more than being aberrant, this, in reality, is concerning, as it is concerning that they continue to silence what the real problem affecting the Spanish state is, which is not called Puigdemont.

Even though many do not want to see it, we have not said or proposed anything different in what we have been asserting over these last three and a half years - since November 2nd, 2017- and, step by step, it is being shown that only in and from Europe will it be possible to solve the judicial part of a conflict that, as I have said so many times, is not legal but political.

Dismantling the judicial scaffolding created to end the Catalan independence movement is not an easy task, sometimes thankless and sometimes even very dangerous, but, without a doubt, being the legal professional that I am, it is time to express gratitude both for the confidence placed in me and the opportunity given to me to put everything I believe in at the service of rights and freedoms: law is, among many other things, an instrument to change reality.

The final battle, the mother of all legal battles has already begun and it has begun well, but the important thing is to know how it ends and, on this occasion it seems, 'prima facie', that the result could fall on the side of reason, on the side of good sense, on the side of legal certainty.

In any case, returning to the issue, I have to say that the application for annulment that we have presented, which, prima facie, is well founded, should not and cannot be seen as an attack on the European Parliament, because it is not and, furthermore because, in reality, what we are defending is the very integrity of Parliament and the rights of its members.

Everything, absolutely everything alleged in our legal case is based on basic principles of the European Union - those without which it would have no reason to exist - on the fundamental rights recognized and assumed by the Union and, above all, on the necessary protection that all members of Parliament must have to exercise their respective mandates and the representation of EU citizens they perform, without being subject to coercion or pressure of any kind... even - or rather, especially - those deputies who represent national minorities.

The final battle, the mother of all legal battles - the result of which should clear the ground for a political solution - has already begun and it has begun well, but, as in any challenge, the important thing is to know how it ends and, on this occasion, it seems, prima facie, that the result could fall on the side of reason, on the side of good sense, on the side of legal certainty.

What I am not so clear about is whether the reaction to this good start will be in accordance with the law, within the rules of fair play, or, rather, it will go over the side of unreason, force and arbitrariness in the form of lawfare… And I say this because every time we win something, in one way or another, I end up losing something and getting closer to a destination that some seem to have already decided in writing.

Experience is showing me that European successes, put on a timeline, always run parallel to my judicial problems. It is surely no more than a coincidence, but, prima facie, it doesn't seem to be.

In any case, whatever they do, in the end it is clear that, while some are capable of the most heinous accusations, others of us dedicate our time to continue working in order to, prima facie, make it clear that we know what we are doing, that we are on the right side of history and that we will carry on doing it… as long as we are allowed to. Onward.

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