Wed. Apr 24th, 2019

The precedent of the last MEP who has been removed from immunity could affect Puigdemont

El precedente del último eurodiputado al que se le ha retirado la inmunidad podría afectar a Puigdemont

In the Eurochamber the parliamentary immunity to its deputies 69 times in this term (2014-2019). Only one of the 70 petitions that the Member States have submitted has been maintained, according to data from the institution. The last case, about the Greek MEP Lampros Fountoulis of the far-right party Golden Dawn, throws considerations that could be applied to the case of Carles Puigdemont, which tops the list of Junts per Catalunya in the May elections.

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If it were to obtain the deputy's certificate and immunity, an issue that has not yet been clarified, the plenary session of the European Parliament could be withdrawn after the mandatory report of the legal affairs committee. But the process could take months. The request for the waiver of immunity to Fountoulis was made in October and was communicated to the plenary of the Chamber a month later. The commission has been voted on this month of April and this Thursday it has been validated by the plenary together with two other petitions in that sense.

In the last case in which immunity has been withdrawn from a diphthong, it is considered that the prosecution is foreign to his position in the European Parliament, as in the case of the expresident

The legal affairs committee decided this week to withdraw the prerogative of the Greek MEP by considering in his report that "the prosecution does not refer to opinions or votes cast in the exercise of the duties of the deputy" in the European Parliament. It also notes that the House does not enter to assess the guilt or not of the deputy and that immunity "is not a personal privilege of the deputy, but a guarantee of independence of Parliament as a whole and its deputies."

He also adds that "the purpose of parliamentary immunity is to protect the Parliament and its deputies from the judicial proceedings related to the activities performed in the exercise of their parliamentary obligations and that can not be separated from them".

Another of the considerations made by the commission is that "there is no reason to suspect that the criminal process hides the intention to harm the political activity of the deputy and, therefore, the independence of Parliament."

Thus, taking into account that Puigdemont's prosecution is due to the events of the Catalan October of 2017, when he was president of the Generalitat, immunity could be withdrawn following this criterion if Spain requests it. In fact, Jose Maria Ruiz Mateos - the Spanish precedent - had immunity removed in February 1991 after it had been requested by the Supreme Court a year earlier. The businessman was elected MEP in June 1989 after spending the electoral campaign in search and capture and then the Spanish authorities accepted his immunity.

If Puigdemont obtains immunity, he would force the plenary session of the European Parliament to rule on his withdrawal if the Supreme

According Article 9 of the Rules of the Chamber, the requests to withdraw the immunity should be addressed to the president of the European Parliament and then, after being communicated to the plenary, they are referred to the legal affairs committee. In the Spanish case, the Supreme Court is responsible for processing the petition.

Thus, beyond the controversy that has already raised the question of whether or not to apply immunity at the time he is elected MEP, if the case of Ruiz Mateos is imposed, Puigdemont would force the full European Parliament to rule on the question and to vote. However, some voices have indicated that the prerogative will not be taken into account if the expresident does not collect the minutes in the Congress or swear by the Constitution.

The expresident will head the list of Junts per Catalunya, although this Thursday it has once again insisted on a unitary list of sovereignty in an article published in various media along with exclosellers Clara Ponsatí and Toni Comín, who maintains the deputy act of Esquerra Republicana. The Catalan National Assembly also presses in that direction, but the Republicans have ruled out the coalition at all times.

Another of the windows that has been contemplated if the expresident obtains immunity is that it appears in the Parlament as a candidate for an investiture debate after the resignation of Quim Torra, since the telematic route has already been ruled out by the Constitutional Court. JxCat has maintained throughout the legislature that its priority objective was the protection and restitution of Puigdemont's position, but that maneuver would force the ERC to back its investiture and the Republicans have insisted that they will only take effective steps.

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