European Union lawmakers decided to lift the immunity protecting former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont from prosecution in a late-night vote on Monday. Mr Puigdemont and other former colleagues are alleged by the Spanish government to have broken the law in the run-up to the Catalonia referendum and declaration of independence in 2017. Separatist parties in Catalonia are now expected to mount a challenge to the decision which has opened the door to the former Catalan officials being the target of European Arrest warrants.
France 24 Correspondent Sarah Morris said: “Well basically those members of the European Parliament voted last night.
“The vote was revealed this morning, they have voted 400 votes for lifting the immunity of Carles Puigdemont and two other former members of his government.
“248 of those MEPs voted against that lifting of the immunity, that essentially means that they considered that those members of the Catalan government only did not have immunity since this was an alleged crime that was committed before they won their seats in the Brussels Parliament.
“As such, they can face justice.”
Ms Morris continued: “That opens the door as you said for the Spanish courts to reactive that European Arrest warrant, those arrest warrants were paralysed in Belgium and in Scotland where one of the other government members to refuge after she fled after that independence referendum.
“The Spanish jurists here are not expecting however for that extradition to be speedy.
“The Catalan nationalists have already said that they will appeal this decision by the MEPs to the European Court of Justice.
“We know for instance that in January another former government member of the Catalan government in Belgium was to be extradited but the Belgian court rejected that extradition.”
In October 2017, regional authorities held an unauthorised independence reference and the Catalan parliament subsequently issued a declaration of independence.
As a result, a number of high-profile separatist politicians were handed heavy jail sentences.
Mr Puigdemont fled Spain to Belgium rather than face trial and now is an MEP for his party in the European Parliament.
Turnout was down over 20 percent with participation plummeting because of the coronavirus pandemic.