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Parliament not paying salary for MPs accused of rebellion

MPs not expected to meet for a new plenary session until October

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24 July 2018 03:01 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

MPs prosecuted for rebellion have had their pay suspended by Parliament, the Catalan government has revealed.

The decision, that affects former president Carles Puigdemont, former vice president Oriol Junqueras and three other MPs, came after a judge ruled they should all be suspended because they are facing trial for a serious crime.

However, government spokeswoman Elsa Artadi said that they cannot be considered as "suspended" MPs until the Parliament bureau makes a decision on the issue.

"For now, they are not receiving their pay, but this doesn't mean they're suspended," she said during a press conference. According to her, the MPs not getting their salary is something that could be "reversed" or "legally challenged."

A contested issue

The situation of these MPs is a matter of controversy in the parliament bureau, with pro-independence parties divided on how to handle it.

Pro-independence Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) and Esquerra Republicana (ERC) quarreled over how to implement this suspension. The two stand as coalition parties in government.

Both parties made their differences clear in a bureau meeting last week, and due to the disagreements parliament speaker Roger Torrent ended up calling off the plenary.

Among what was said, Junts per Catalunya, led by Carles Puigdemont, accused speaker Roger Torrent (of ERC) of "breaking an agreement" between the parties.

According to JxCat, both ruling forces had agreed on suspending all the involved MPs - except for Puigdemont himself - and only temporarily, for the plenary session which was to resume that week.

Yet sources close to the speaker said there was no agreement, and therefore, Torrent did not fail to fulfill anything. ERC spokesman Sergi Sabrià also denied any agreement and accused JxCat of "lying."

The Supreme Court suspended all six officials because the Spanish Penal Code allows such a move for individuals prosecuted for rebellion and with a detention order hanging over them.

Junts per Catalunya claims that this applies to the five MPs in pre-trial prison, but however not for Puigdemont, as he is free in Europe and a German court rejected rebellion charges for him.

Yet Esquerra wants to apply the same solution for all the involved lawmakers. "It is not acceptable that there are MPs of first and second tier, we want to preserve the rights of all the involved lawmakers because they have all been elected," said Sabrià.

Next plenary in October

Both parties tried to diffuse tensions after a meeting between President Quim Torra and vice president Pere Aragonès, and agreed to deal with the issue after the summer break.

In fact, Parliament is not expected to meet for a plenary session until October. Opposition parties regretted this, condemning that, because of the pro-independence forces' "disagreements," the chamber cannot meet.

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  • The Parliament bureau during a meeting on July 24 (by ACN)

  • The Parliament bureau during a meeting on July 24 (by ACN)