09/03/2021

Withdrawal of Puigdemont's immunity divides the European Parliament

2 min
MEPs Toni Comín, Carles Puigdemont and Clara Ponsatí

The process to withdraw MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí's immunity has not been smooth nor has it involved unanimous support for the Spanish justice system, rather the opposite . Despite the final approval of the request, the result draws a clear division in the European Parliament around the Catalan issue: 400 votes in favor, 248 against and 45 abstentions. In other words, 42% of MEPs have refused to endorse the reactivation of the process of extradition of Catalan pro-independence leaders who are in exile outside Spain and who won the support of nearly one million votes in the last European elections. As Toni Comín said, this is a "political victory" for Catalan independence, which once again sees how things in Europe are seen substantially different than in the Spanish state.

In fact, the same judge who accuses them, Pablo Llarena, has submitted a preliminary question to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to ask it to clarify how to make effective the extradition order that has been transferred to the Belgian justice system. Llarena, after suffering numerous judicial defeats outside Spanish borders, wants to put pressure on Belgian judges through European institutions. Let's remember, however, that a Belgian court denied the extradition of ex-adviser Lluís Puig because it considered that the Supreme Court was not the competent body to rule on the matter.

Once again, then, it is confirmed that the Catalan issue is partly played out at a European level, and it is there that Spanish democracy suffers a strong reputational crisis. Enough of saying that Spain is a full democracy recognised in international rankings, as the representatives of the PSOE, PP and Cs often repeat. No European democracy right now has political leaders in exile in Brussels, nor has it seen how a withdrawal of immunity, which is usually resolved quickly and with the support of 90% of MEPs, has caused such a serious rift between MEPs. Sánchez's government would do well to take note and act so that the discredit of the Spanish justice system does not end up dragging down the entire Spanish state with it, if it has not already done so. It has in its power to take measures, such as amnesty, to prevent Spain's image from hitting rock bottom.

In addition, this Tuesday, the judge of penitentiary surveillance has revoked Lledoners political prisoners' open prison regime, who are again locked up without the possibility of leaving beyond the regular permits. The most worrying thing is that the judge fully endorses the arguments of the Prosecutor's Office, in the sense that the open prison regime is premature, among other things, because the convicted has not acknowledged the commission of the crime. But how could they acknowledge the commission of the crime of sedition when there are numerous jurists and experts who question this criminal offence and the interpretation that the court made of it? What kind of democracy is this where you are not allowed to disagree with a court ruling? The answer is clear: the same one that Europe distrusts.