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An address on the crimes of sedition and rebellion by the Spanish Supreme Court prosecutor Javier Zaragoza, organized by the European political group of Spanish party Ciudadanos (Cs), has provided some additional material for Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, in his defence against Spanish justice's request that his immunity from prosecution as an MEP be lifted.

This was confirmed by his lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, in a tweet in response to Catalan politician Josep Costa (JxCat), who had noted that the Cs event on Monday morning took place "days after the start of the hearing for the request against the MEPs' pursued by the prosecutor." Costa also recalled that the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee which must handle the immunity question is chaired by Cs. "Maybe this will be of interest to the European Court of Justice?" He asked the lawyer, who replied in the affirmative.

Thus, the defence at European level of Puigdemont and the two other Catalan pro-independence MEPs also sought by Spanish justice, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, will add to its case this new element of apparent complicity between the Spanish public prosecutors and the Spanish pro-unionist parties who oppose the presence of the Catalan independence-supporting MEPs in the European Parliament.

In fact, at the event, the prosecutor Zaragoza expressed his frustration at not being able to extradite the Catalan president in exile, and called for a reform of the European Arrest Warrant mechanism. "It cannot be that a state becomes a haven of impunity for those who seek to alter territorial integrity," he said, pointing the finger at Belgium, where Puigdemont and several of his former ministers have been based since 2017, while putting themselves completely at the disposal of the country's justice authorities.

He also insisted that "the events that took place in Catalonia" in 2017 "are punishable in all states of the European Union", but admitted that the "disparity" of criteria for examining a European Arrest Warrant has been "an obstacle" to the extradition of Puigdemont and other ex-ministers in Belgium.

The start of the MEPs' immunity hearing

The Legal Affairs Committee launched the process of considering Spain's request on the MEPs' immunity on Monday 16th November, with the presentation and debate of the rapporteur's initial report. The three MEPs have now been summoned to appear before the committee on December 7th, where they will be able to give a 15-minute presentation and answer questions from the MEPs on the committee. Sessions of the hearing take place behind closed doors.

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