The European Union Court of Justice on Wednesday confirmed that former Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan separatist Members of the European Parliament, do not have legal immunity.
The three leaders are wanted by Spanish authorities for their role in Catalonia's 2017 declaration of independence, which was deemed unlawful by Madrid and received no international recognition.
The court said it rejects all the pleas made by Puigdemont, Antoni Comin and Clara Ponsati after the European Parliament voted to strip the three of immunity in 2021.
Wednesday's ruling is a blow for Puigdemont, who lives in exile in Belgium, because it means he could be extradited to Spain where he still faces charges of disobedience and embezzlement. An earlier charge of sedition was dropped after a change in Spain's legal code abolished the crime.
The Luxembourg-based court dismissed the three MEPs' arguments that the European parliament erred in concluding that the legal proceedings at issue were not brought with the intention of damaging the members' activities.
It also said that the charges faced by the trio are exclusively within the remit of Spanish authorities and that the European Parliament was not required to examine the legality of the Spanish judicial acts.
After the ruling, Puigdemont said on Twitter that he, Comin and Ponsati would appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
We will defend our fundamental rights until the end, he said.
Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena said he would submit a new extradition request to Belgian authorities for Puigdemont to face trial on the lesser charges of embezzlement and disobedience, depending on the EU courts' rulings.
Spain's previous attempts to have Puigdemont extradited during his stays in Germany, Belgium and Italy have failed.