Pablo Llarena, the Spanish Supreme Court judge, has now asked the European Parliament to suspend the MEP immunity of Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín. He is also maintaining the current European Arrest Warrants against them.
Puigdemont and Comín first acquired provisional accreditation as MEPs on 20 December, following the ruling on 19 December by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg that jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras – also elected as an MEP – had immunity and should have been allowed to acquire his accreditation in June 2019.
Puigdemont and Comín were elected as MEPs alongside Junqueras on 26 May 2019, but none of the three were able to take up their seats. The CJEU ruling on Junqueras had an implication on the immunity status of both Puigdemont and Comín, as well as on their extradition hearing that had already been postponed until 3 February in Belgium.
On Monday 6 January, Puigdemont and Comín collected their full MEP credentials. They are also expected to attend the plenary at the EU Parliament on 13 January.
The decision from Pablo Llarena comes a week after Spain’s Attorney General office asked the Supreme Court to suspend the current arrest warrants.
The Attorney General believed that Llarena should first ask the EU Parliament to withdraw parliamentary immunity before reissuing any warrants. Llarena has now taken the first action, and maintained the current warrants.
Brussels itself had already suspended processing the warrants against Puigdemont and Comín, following the parliamentary immunity as MEPs. The arrest warrants had not been rejected outright, but suspended for as long as they have parliamentary immunity.
It is Spain’s third attempt to extradite Puigdemont, with the first warrant withdrawn in December 2017, and the second accepted by Germany but only for misuse of funds and not rebellion. However, Madrid did not accept those charges and again ended up withdrawing its European arrest warrant.
The arrest warrant for former Catalan minister Lluís Puig, who is also living in Belgium, has not been suspended. A Belgian judge will review his case on 3 February.
It is also the third time that both Toni Comín and Lluís Puig have faced an extradition request by Spain over their role in the 2017 independence bid.