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Outside the European Parliament in Brussels, twenty-one MEPs have unfurled the same banner in support of political prisoners and exiles that Catalonia's president Quim Torra hung on his government's palace and for which he was disqualified from office. European parliamentarians who joined the protest in support of Torra and the jailed Catalan politicians included Corsican MEP François Alfonsi, Irish representative Clare Daly and Slovenian Milan Brglez, as well as others including the Catalan MEPs from the JxCat and ERC parties. "The Spanish state's repression should have no place in the EU," tweeted JxCat. 

"Spain is the only EU country where there are political opponents who have been sentenced to 13 years in prison," said Alfonsi, asserting that the Catalan affair is a European problem. Irish MEP Clare Daly (Independents 4 Change group) also joined the criticism and denounced the "continued repression of Catalan political opponents", adding that it was incomprehensible that the European Commission had not included the issue in its annual report on the Rule of Law.

Mounir Satouri of the French Socialists commented that the removal from office of the Catalan leader for hanging this banner was "deplorable as a signal for democracy."

Clara Ponsatí (JxCat) commented that disqualifying Torra from office showed that the Spanish authorities "do not respect the votes of the Catalans." "We call on the European institutions to stop closing their eyes to this," said Ponsatí. Her JxCat colleague in Brussels, Toni Comín sees it as "concerning" that the EU is "looking the other way" at the situation of the Catalan prisoners. The action today, he said, was to denounce "that judicial repression continues in Spain, as evidenced by the disqualification of the Catalan president Torra."  

ERC's Diana Riba said: "In a democratic system, presidents are elected or elected at the polls, not in the courts."

"Struggling to get my head round this"

Clare Daly had spoken out strongly in the European chamber about the democratic failings of Spain last week: "I'm struggling to get my head around this Rule of Law report which talks about Spain and manages to say nothing about the serious troubling actions of the Spanish judiciary."       

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