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A Belgian judge has decided to suspend the extradition process against exiled Catalan politicians Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín, because they have parliamentary immunity after being elected members of the European Parliament in last May's elections, as the EU Court of Justice ruled before Christmas.

The investigating judge in Brussels decided to suspend the proceedings this Thursday. It is the third attempt by Spanish justice to extradite the exiled members of the 2017 Catalan government, and for the moment the process against Puigdemont and Comín has been halted. For it to be resumed, the European Parliament would have to decide to waive their parliamentary immunity.

As sources for the exile leaders' defence teams told ACN, this suspension will be maintained as long as the two politicians are MEPs and covered by immunity, but if the Spanish Supreme Court lodges a petition with the European chamber to waive the legal protection which covers representatives and the Parliament approves this, then the arrest warrants could be reactivated.

In this regard, the European Arrest Warrants and extradition order still maintained by Spain openly contradicts the European legislation which recognizes the immunity of Puigdemont and Comín.

The EU court ruling and the immunity of Junqueras

On December 19th, the EU Court of Justice ruled that Oriol Junqueras was covered by immunity from the moment he was proclaimed elected to the European Parliament on June 13th. This decision also affected Puigdemont and Comín, who entered the European Parliament in Brussels the day after the ruling to obtain accreditation as MEPs. 

The Brussels judge called a hearing for December 16th, for Puigdemont and Comín as well as a third Catalan politician, Lluís Puig, to rule on their extradition, and at that point decided to await the EU Court of Justice ruling due the same week. But after adjourning the case until February 3rd, the Belgian court has now released its decision in advance, ratifying the immunity of the exiled pair.

However, the court maintains the February 3rd hearing date for exiled Catalan culture minister Lluís Puig, also facing an extradition order, who does not hold European office.

In a tweet, Carles Puigdemont puts the emphasis on his vice president, the imprisoned Oriol Junqueras, demanding that Spanish justice follow suit and release the ERC leader: "Spain must act in the same way as Belgium has done and respect the law."

Puigdemont, Junqueras and Comín all won seats as MEPs in the European elections last May 26th: Junqueras stood successfully while in provisional prison, with the Supreme Court trial of the Catalan pro-independence leaders in process at the time; meanwhile, Puigdemont and Comín campaigned from their exile in Belgium and were also elected by voters from Catalonia and other parts of the Spanish state.

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