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The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, announced this afternoon to the plenary of the European Parliament that he has decided that Carles Puigdemont's request for the protection of his immunity as an MEP - in the face of possible criminal proceedings being taken against him by a Spanish court - will be referred to the parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs.

The Catalan MEP Puigdemont requested the protection from the European chamber in the face of information published by Spanish daily El Mundo on August 30th, in which it was revealed that he was to be the subject of a new investigation by the National Audience court.

Through a letter to Sassoli, Puigdemont denounced that such an investigation would be a breach of his immunity as a member of the European Parliament, and thus he called for his request for protection to be communicated to the plenary and forwarded as soon as possible to the Committee on Legal Affairs.

This is exactly what the President of the parliament did today in the first plenary session after the summer. Sassoli announced the Catalan MEP's request and his decision to send the matter on to the appropriate committee.

In his letter, Puigdemont had informed Sassoli that he was being criminally investigated for his political activities, and that within these new proceedings opened by the Spanish court, it was asserted that wiretaps had been judicially authorized. These would directly or indirectly affect the secrecy of his communications and his personal privacy, as well as his duties as a Member of the European Parliament.

Without authorization

The MEP and exiled president of Catalonia also pointed out that this was a different judicial investigation to the one opened against him in Spain's Supreme Court and which the court had launched without the corresponding authorization from the European Parliament.

According to the information published by El Mundo, which was based on police sources, chamber number 6 of Spain's National Audience court is bringing together several cases already opened against the independence movement, and in this context, the bugging of phones belonging to people in Puigdemont's circles, including senator Josep Maria Matamala, had been authorized.

The requests for the phone tapping were awaiting approval for months, according to the newspaper, but finally received the green light after Puigdemont travelled to Northern Catalonia - in French territory - in late August to participate in the Catalan Summer University.

The request for European parliamentary protection against this investigation comes when the EU Parliament has yet to rule on the Spanish Supreme Court's demand to waive the immunity against Puigdemont and his two Catalan parliamentary colleagues, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí. The removal of the immunity of the MEPs, which the Spanish court is requesting, is an essential prior step for the Belgian judiciary to issue a ruling on the Spanish extradition order for the three pro-independence politicians.