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Spanish MEPs' access suspended over Catalan dispute

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Spanish MEPs' access suspended over Catalan dispute
Carles Puigdemont. Photo: AFP
09:43 CEST+02:00
The European Parliament has suspended the accreditation of all newly elected Spanish members after Carles Puigdemont and another Catalan separatist MEP were denied access to the building, sources said Friday.

Puigdemont, who was president of Catalonia at the time of the failed independence bid, was refused access to the parliament building Wednesday evening, one of Puigdemont's lawyers, Simon Bekaert, told AFP. So too was fellow Catalan politician Toni Comin.

They were also denied temporary accreditation, despite the fact that other Spanish members had already received theirs, which Bekaert denounced as "arbitrary and discriminatory".

The reason given was that the Parliament did not yet have the official list of Spanish members, he said.

Puigdemont fled to Belgium shortly after Catalonia declared independence to avoid arrest.

Although he has been elected to the European Parliament it is not clear if he will be able to take his seat.

Under Spanish rules, all of those elected to the European Parliament first have to swear they will abide by Spain's constitution -- in person. If Puigdemont travelled to Spain he would immediately be arrested on a charge of rebellion.

President of the parliament Antonio Tajani decided to suspend access for all Spanish MEPs until the definitive results of the European elections in Spain are published.

"The Spanish theatre of the absurd has been imported into the European Parliament," said Bekaert.

"If the European Parliament lets itself be influenced by a member state into banning deputies from taking their seat, we will go to the European Court of Justice," he warned.

The Spanish authorities have to send the official results of the elections there to the parliament in the 20 days following the elections, he added.

This latest row comes as Spain announced Friday that it had complained to the United Nations over a report by UN-mandated experts criticising them over the detention of Catalan separatists.

Madrid said they had asked for the assessment by independent experts to be revised, alleging a "conflict of interest".

The experts, although commissioned by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council were not speaking in the name of the United Nations.

Their report, published on Wednesday, called for the release of three leading separatists whose cases it was asked to examine and described their detention as "arbitrary".

READ ALSO: Catalan separatist leaders (one in jail and one in exile) win seats in EU parliament

 
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