Exiled former officials call on Supreme Court to withdraw arrest warrants

Spain's prosecutor sides against politicians' request; electoral authority obliges them to go to Madrid to take up their seats

JxCat's Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín on May 26 (ACN/Blanca Blay)
JxCat's Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín on May 26 (ACN/Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

June 14, 2019 10:17 PM

Following their election as MEPs, the defense teams of exiled former president, Carles Puigdemont, and his former health minister, Toni Comín, have called on the Supreme Court to withdraw the arrest warrants against their clients in Spain.

The lawyers of the two former officials, who went to Belgium in the wake of the failed independence bid in Catalonia in 2017, argue that the arrest warrants should be withdrawn after they both won seats in the May 26 European election.

In separate appeals, the defenses argue that Puigdemont and Comín "are European parliamentarians elect" and demand the orders be withdrawn so they can "comply with what the state law stipulates," in reference to the procedure for MEPs to take up their seats.

Spain's electoral authority explicitly obliged them to go to Madrid to take up their seats on Thursday evening. 

On Friday evening, the public prosecutor sided against both politicians' request, but it is the judges in the Supreme Court the ones who will decide on the issue. 

MEP immunity not a "privilege" but a "guarantee"

The appeals also argue that the immunity from prosecution that MEPs enjoy is not a privilege that benefits the individual, but rather "a guarantee of the freedom and independence of the [EU] institution and its members before other powers."

According to the lawyers, preventing the MEPs-elect from formally taking up their seats "is not only erroneous and anti-democratic but clearly goes against [Spain's] internal law and the law of the [European] Union.

Puigdemont's defense asks the high court to resolve the issue in a maximum of three days to avoid a violation of its client's rights and those of "more than a million voters." Spanish MEPs are due to formally take up their seats in a ceremony in  Madrid on June 17.