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Spanish judge seeks end of EU immunity for Catalan fugitives

January 10, 2020 GMT
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Catalonia's former regional president Carles Puigdemont, left, and former Catalan regional minister Antoni Comin take a selfie overlooking the plenary chamber at the European Parliament in Brussels, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. In a potentially stinging reversal for Spanish justice authorities, the European Union's top court ruled that a former Catalan official serving a prison sentence for his role in a banned independence referendum two years ago had the right to parliamentary immunity when he was on trial. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
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Catalonia's former regional president Carles Puigdemont, left, and former Catalan regional minister Antoni Comin take a selfie overlooking the plenary chamber at the European Parliament in Brussels, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. In a potentially stinging reversal for Spanish justice authorities, the European Union's top court ruled that a former Catalan official serving a prison sentence for his role in a banned independence referendum two years ago had the right to parliamentary immunity when he was on trial. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish Supreme Court judge asked the European Parliament on Friday to strip the Catalonia region’s ex-leader and another fugitive Catalan politician of the legal immunity they have as EU lawmakers.

The European Parliament said in Brussels that the two would be officially welcomed at the legislature’s plenary on Monday but added that another Catalan MEP could not be sitting as an EU legislator because it had to take note “without delay” of a ruling this week of the Spanish supreme court. It did not elaborate.

Spanish investigating Judge Pablo Llarena also upheld the European arrest warrants Spain issued for former regional president Carles Puigdemont and for Toni Comín, who was a member of his Cabinet.

European Parliament President David Sassoli said Friday that Puigdemont and Comin will be confirmed when the plenary session opens on Monday in Strasbourg France.

Puigdemont’s pro-secession government led a drive to break Catalonia away from Spain two years ago. He and Comín fled to Belgium in October 2017, days after the regional Catalan parliament passed a unilateral independence declaration.

Both won election in May to the European Parliament, along with Puigdemont’s former No. 2, Oriol Junqueras. Members of the European Union’s legislature have immunity from arrest, detention and prosecution.

Sassoli said that Junqueras had to be denied his place based on a Spanish court decision on Thursday.

After the EU’s top court ruled against Spain’s move to block the trio from taking their seats, they were accepted as MEPs.

Junqueras and several other members of Puigdemont’s Cabinet remained in Spain and spent nearly two years in pretrial detention for their roles in the secession attempt. He was convicted of sedition and is serving a 13-year prison sentence in Spain.

Puigdemont, Comín and several other politicians fled the country and have thus far successfully fought extradition. Outstanding arrest warrants, including national ones, mean they would be immediately detained if they attempted to return home.