Spanish MEPs' access suspended over Catalan dispute

Brussels (AFP) –


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, Paul 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 in the 20 days following the elections, he added.