MADRID — The European Parliament has stripped the immunity of Carles Puigdemont, the previous separatist chief of Catalonia, clearing the best way for Spain to make a recent try to extradite him from Belgium and check out him on sedition prices.

The European Parliament stated on Tuesday {that a} majority of its members had voted a day earlier in a secret poll to take away the immunity of Mr. Puigdemont and two different Catalan members of the meeting who face prices in Spain associated to a botched try to declare Catalonia’s independence in 2017. Spain’s judiciary has charged that their bid was unconstitutional.

The vote on Monday ended a prolonged battle by Mr. Puigdemont and his colleagues to make use of their safety as elected members of the European meeting to protect them from prosecution in Spain. Now it’s as much as the Belgian judiciary to rule on whether or not Mr. Puigdemont ought to be despatched again to the Spanish capital, Madrid, to face trial.

“It’s a unhappy day for the European Parliament,” Mr. Puigdemont stated. “We have now misplaced our immunity, however the European Parliament has misplaced greater than that and consequently, European democracy too,” he stated, including that this was “a transparent case of political prosecution.”

The Spanish authorities welcomed the vote.

“The issues of Catalonia is not going to be solved in Europe or by Europe. They should be solved in Spain by bringing all Catalan forces across the desk,” stated the overseas minister, Arancha González Laya. The vote confirmed that the European Parliament had “respect for the work of the judiciary in our nation,” she added.

The European Parliament’s determination comes solely weeks after regional elections in Catalonia that elevated the vast majority of pro-independence events within the regional Parliament. Separatist politicians have held management since 2015, however the secessionist battle has cut up Catalan society whereas additionally remaining a extremely contentious subject in nationwide politics.

Mr. Puigdemont and a few of his colleagues have been in Brussels since October 2017, shortly after the Spanish central authorities ousted his regional government for holding a referendum that Spanish courts had dominated unlawful after which declaring Catalonia’s independence.

In the course of the previous three years, Mr. Puigdemont has efficiently fought off makes an attempt to extradite him each from Belgium and Germany, the place he was briefly detained throughout a visit.

In January, judges in Belgium additionally rejected a request to extradite one other former member of Catalonia’s regional authorities, Lluis Puig, who’s going through comparable prices in Spain. The Belgian courtroom argued that the Spanish Supreme Court docket didn’t have the authorized authority to subject an arrest warrant towards Mr. Puig, including that he ought to be tried in a regional courtroom.

A part of Mr. Puigdemont’s former authorities, nevertheless, stayed in Spain and stood trial earlier than the nation’s Supreme Court docket. 9 Catalans obtained jail sentences after they had been convicted of crimes together with sedition and misuse of public funds.

One former Catalan chief, Oriol Junqueras, was additionally barred by Spain’s highest courtroom from taking his seat within the European Parliament. Each he and Mr. Puigdemont had been elected to the meeting in 2019.

The European Parliament’s vote will enable a Spanish choose to reactivate a European arrest warrant towards Mr. Puigdemont that was suspended in early 2020, when Mr. Puigdemont and his colleagues took their seats within the European meeting.

The Catalan leaders are usually not the primary members of the European Parliament to be stripped of immunity.

In 2019, the European Parliament stripped the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founding father of the far-right Nationwide Entrance social gathering in France. It’s nonetheless reviewing the case of Ioannis Lagos, who was sentenced in Greece final yr for his actions with the far-right Golden Daybreak social gathering. The Greek authorities considers Golden Daybreak a legal group.

The Catalan case has divided politicians in Brussels, a lot of them detest to set a precedent of lawmakers being tried over political exercise. The elimination of Mr. Puigdemont’s immunity was authorized by three-fifths of the members of the European Parliament.

It might take months for Belgian courts to rule on Spain’s newest try to extradite Mr. Puigdemont and the 2 different Catalan leaders, Antoni Comín and Clara Ponsatí.

The Brussels Public Prosecutor’s Workplace is inspecting the opportunity of renewing authorized proceedings in Belgium, a spokeswoman for the workplace stated.

Ought to the Belgian courts block the extradition request, the Catalans would proceed to take a seat within the European Parliament, however with out particular immunity rights.

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