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A strong accusation from lawyer Gonzalo Boye in defence of MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, this Friday before the Sixth Chamber of the European General Court (EGC). "The European Parliament has been treating my clients in a degrading way and violating their rights for three years, and has not protected them from suffering political persecution due to being a national minority. I ask the court to protect them from the European Parliament", Boye claimed to the five members of the court, presided over by Anna Marcoulli. In his first statement to the court, the lawyer for the Junts party MEPs explained that the persecution suffered is exemplified by the recent reform of the Spanish Penal Code and the repeal of the offence of sedition, which according to statements from prime minister Pedro Sánchez and several of his ministers, was carried out so that the MEPs could be arrested. "The latest statements on the subject are from minister Iceta", he added.

Boye also denounced the lack of impartiality of the president of the ERU chamber's Committee of Legal Affairs (JURI), Adrián Vázquez, Spanish MEP from the Ciudadanos (Cs) party, who processed the request of the Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena to lift the trio's immunity, in March 2021. The defence lawyer also protested about the rapporteur of that committee in the Catalan MEPs' immunity case, the Bulgarian ultra-conservative Angel Dzhambazki, who, Boye said, "is a member of Vox and participated in an event of theirs at which people chanted: 'Puigdemont, to prison'".

Controversy over withdrawal of MEP status

In his presentation to this second of two separate one-day hearings on the rights of the pro-independence MEPs, their lawyer also referred to the fact that the current president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, had visited Barcelona recently, and that subsequently a Spanish newspaper had reported that the chamber was already considering stripping Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí of their MEP status. The visit and the news report came at the end of sequence in which the Cs group in the chamber had pressured Metsola over the need for Spain to complete its list of MEPs, and Spain's Central Electoral Commission (JEC), then responded to the request for the missing information with an assertion that, without respecting European jurisprudence, insisted that four Catalan representatives were required to go to Madrid to swear on the Spanish Constitution, in order to be considered full MEPs. In December 2019, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) established the Junqueras doctrine, in which it establishes that a candidate is an MEP upon being elected, without any further formalities being required.

FOTO tribunal TGUE. 2a vista
Entrance of the Sixth Chamber judges at the General Court this Friday. / Photo: M.P.

Also this morning, Boye clashed with the lawyer of the European Parliament, Norbert Lorenz, after the chamber's lawyers asserted that "Puigdemont probably acquired his [MEP] status illegally", in relation to an EGC ruling that questions his rights, and has been appealed to the ECJ. "Here they are now saying that the European Parliament was very kind to Puigdemont, and that they will now strip him of his status", Boye answered him.

ANC members at the hearing 

The president of the court, who is also the reporting judge for the case (just as in Thursday's session), insisted on asking the parties about the impartiality of the members of the Parliament's Committee of Legal Affairs.

At the hearing this Friday, in the major chamber of the General Court of the European Union, about twenty members of the public were present, among them Catalan citizens who live in Luxembourg and are members of the Catalan National Assembly, who had also attended Thursday's hearing. How did they see it? "Very technical and difficult", they responded, before the start of the session.