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EU parliament accredits Catalan separatists

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Carles Puigdemont, left, and Antoni Comin take a selfie at the European Parliament
Carles Puigdemont, left, and Antoni Comin take a selfie at the European Parliament   -  
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Associated Press
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Catalonia's battle for independence is being fought in the courts with jailed or exiled separatist leaders demanding "political rights."

On Monday, the European Parliament sided with them on one point: that of recognising pro-independence figures Oriol Junqueras, Carles Puigdemont, and Toni Comín as elected members.

Spain has been trying to block them from taking up their seats in the chamber.

Court battles

The three stood in May's European elections despite - in the case of Junqueras - being on trial for sedition at the time. He was later convicted and jailed for his role in an illegal 2017 Catalan independence referendum.

The move by the EU parliament comes three days after Spain's electoral authority blocked jailed Junqueras from taking up his parliamentary seat.

In doing so, the authority ignored a controversial December ruling by the European Court of Justice stating that he had parliamentary immunity from the moment he was elected.

The two other top Catalan separatists who were also elected - Puigdemont and Comin - had fled to Belgium following the 2017 referendum.

However, they could not previously take up their seats in the European Parliament as, like Junqueras, they had not gone through the process of swearing the Spanish constitutional oath - a process the parliament now appears to be overlooking.

Although the Esquerra Republicana leader remains in prison with a 13-year sentence for sedition, Puigdemont and Comín have now been provided with MEP accreditation.

Commission holds back

The European Commission has avoided entering into an assessment of the issue and says it is up to Spain's Supreme Court and the European Parliament to determine the implementation of the ECJ judgement.

That leaves Spaniards both for and against the Catalan separatists waiting for Spain's top court to make up its mind.

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