Spain has gone into battle with European justice over the immunity of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his two fellow Catalan MEPs in exile Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí. The office of the Spanish state solicitors - legal representatives of the Sánchez government - has reprimanded European judges for temporarily suspending the withdrawal of parliamentary immunity from the three exiled Catalan politicians. "It is not valid for the EU General Court (EGC) to seek to decide on issues that depend on the law and authorities of a member state, in this case Spain," says the Spanish submission to the court, to which digital daily elDiario.es has had access.
Spain reproaches Europe
At the beginning of June, European justice provisionally suspended the waiver of the immunity from prosecution of the three Catalan MEPs so that they could attend the session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, without risk of being arrested. Now, Sonsoles Centeno Huerta, lawyer acting for the Spanish government, has questioned the EGC's powers to grant the precautionary measure to the pro-independence parliamentarians. Centeno asserts that "it is not possible for the EGC to restore their immunity as an urgent interim measure", as "it is up to the national authorities to grant it".
The state solicitor is highly critical of the European judges' decision: "The interim measure requested is not justified, because the decision of the European Parliament is not the determinant cause of the alleged serious or irreparable damage" that the 3 MEPs could face due to the stripping of their immunity.
Roles as MEPs would not be affected
In the submission, the Spanish state lawyer maintains that the decision of the European Parliament "only allowed the lifting of the immunity in order to continue the proceedings in relation to the European Arrest Warrants" against the pro-independence politicians, who "fled Spain to avoid being put on trial". The text also argues that Belgium will not be able to respond to the Spanish extradition request if European justice does not resolve the preliminary question lodged by Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, regarding the refusal to hand over former Catalan minister Lluís Puig.
The arrest warrants against the three exiles remain in force in Spain, but Centeno asserts that there is no "clear risk" to the politicians from this, as, he suggests, they have no need to come to Spain to continue to exercise their office: "Seeing the petitioners are in Belgium, and with the European Parliament in Strasbourg and some sessions and committees in Brussels, it does not seem that the exercise of the function of MEPs can be hindered by an alleged arrest that would take place in Spain."
Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí all currently enjoy immunity as MEPs throughout the countries of the European Union with the exception of Spain. And the Spanish state solicitor warns, in the submission, that the arrest warrants against the Catalan trio are "currently in full effect, as the petitioners have no privilege under [Spanish] national law."
This is due to the fact that they obtained their European seat subsequent to their indictment by the Spanish court, and thus, according to jurisprudence, it is not necessary to make any request to the European Parliament in order to maintain the national arrest warrant. However, the submission also states that "the preliminary question raised by judge Llarena involves the suspension of national arrest warrants."