Belgian justice's decision last week to reject Spain's European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for the Catalan politician in exile Lluís Puig also raises new questions for the proceedings opened in the European Parliament on the possible waiving of immunity from prosecution of the three Catalan MEPs for the JxCat party, Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí. The three pro-independence parliamentarians sent a letter to their fellow MEPs this Monday informing them of the decision and warning them that the reasoning put forward by the Belgian Court of Appeal could have a major influence on their cases, since it is the same justification which they use in their own argument against the immunity request.
"These immunity proceedings may very well end up becoming an embarrassment for this Parliament, as it is being drawn into playing a role in the persecution of a democratic movement," the letter warns. The Catalan MEPs circulated the letter four days before the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee is to hear their arguments against the granting of the Spanish Supreme Court's request, this coming Thursday.
The text of the letter emphasizes that the conclusions of the Brussels Court of Appeal in relation to the case of Puig are applicable to their cases and that, as the three MEPs have argued up till now, the requests lodged with the Parliament on the immunity matter have been issued by “a court that is not competent”.
They also say that this decision provides even more evidence that Spain is violating fundamental rights through criminal proceedings in which "political motivation is becoming increasingly apparent."
Violation of fundamental rights
In the letter, the three MEPs inform their colleagues in the chamber that the decision of the Belgian courts to reject Spain's EAW has a clear influence on the immunity cases opened against them in the European Parliament which are to be debated in the coming weeks.
They explain that the Belgian Court of Appeal, based on the report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, concluded that the Supreme Court, which assumed the case against the Catalan government for organizing the 2017 independence referendum and issued the arrest warrant against Puig, "is not the competent court to try this case." This constitutes "serious grounds" for considering that the execution of the EAW could violate the fundamental right to be tried by the court previously established by law.
Similarly, there is a serious risk of breach of the right to the presumption of innocence, since the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has "extensively documented" statements by Spanish senior officials and authorities taking for granted the guilt of the former members of the Catalan Government tried in the same case as Puig and the 3 MEPs.