A Brussels court has ordered the suspension of Carles Puigdemont’s extradition to Spain. The judge also suspended the arrest warrant issued against former Catalan cabinet member Toni Comin. The pair’s immunity as Members of the European Parliament (‘MEPs’)was cited as a ground for the suspension by the court.
The former Catalan pro-independence leader is wanted to stand trial in Spain on charges of sedition in connection with the failed 2017 independence referendum. Mr Puigdemont handed himself in to the Belgian authorities after Spain issued a warrant for his arrest. This is the fourth extradition request to have been issued by the Spanish authorities for Mr Puigdemont, and came in the aftermath of the conviction and sentencing of 12 of his former colleagues by a Spanish court in October 2019.
Mr Puigdemont and Mr Comin were elected as MEPs in May 2019. In a case concerning another Catalan leader and MEP, Oriol Junqueras, who is currently imprisoned in Spain for his role in the referendum, the European Court of Justice (’CJEU’) ruled that Mr Junqueras was entitled to immunity by virtue of his status of a MEP, thus meaning that Mr Puigdemont and Mr Comin should benefit from the same immunity.
In response to the CJEU ruling, Spain’s state attorney recommended that the Supreme Court temporarily release Mr Junqueras and allow him to take up his seat in the European Parliament in Brussels. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the matter.