Catalan independentists mobilized and took the streets outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday. They were protesting the fact that three of their elected MEPs were not allowed to go to work. Those individuals are Oriol Junqueras, who is imprisoned in Spain, Charles Puigdemont and Antoni Comin, who are both in self-imposed exile in Belgium.
"They should be presumed innocent and that is the way they have their full rights as citizens," said Catalan's foreign minister Alfred Bosch. "People voted for them freely, and now the terrible contradiction is that they can't come here to represent their voters. We think this is no longer an internal Spanish affair, this is a European affair."
Rumours said Puigdemont would show up to the protests, but his lawyer Gonzalo Boye advised him not to go for fear that he would be arrested.
"We were afraid of him to come, we don't want him to come if had to be arrested," Boye said. "He is supposed to represent us, as we voted for him."
According to local police, around 10,000 demonstrators participated. They came by bus, cars and even two chartered flights.
"We all pay it from our pocket," one participant said. "Nobody is paying for us."
However, other Spanish MEPs from parties like the Ciudadanos party have said that those who escape justice do not have the right to sit in the European Parliament. On Monday, the European Court of Justice agreed with this sentiment.