CATALAN President Quim Torra has criticised the decision by the president of the European Parliament to refuse him and his predecessor Carles Puigdemont permissions to hold a conference on the institution’s premises in Brussels.

Antonio Tajani cited “security concerns” for rejecting a bid for them to host Monday’s event in the parliament buildings.

It was switched to a Brussels hotel, where, Torra said: “Tajani has made one of the most anti-democratic and anti-European actions: to violate the principle of freedom of expression … of two elected representatives of the Catalan people to give our point of view about the trial and its development.

“The fight against authoritarianism to build a wall against freedom and rights also takes place in the EU Institutions.

Torra accused Tajani of turning the European Parliament into “a puppet of the Spanish right parties”, and added: “This is a shame for Europe, for Europeans and for everyone who has fought for freedom for decades on this continent.”

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Puigdemont also went on the attack, saying the EU could not continue standing by Spanish political parties which have supported “repression against Catalonia”.

The pair then focused their criticism on the trial of Catalonia’s independence leaders, which yesterday entered its second week.

“We are here to defend the right of self-determination in Catalonia, but also to remember that some of our political and social leaders are facing a trial that could end with decades in jail, when the only thing they have done has been organising a referendum,” said Torra.

“We are here to accuse Spain of violating the most fundamental right of Catalans, their leaders in jail and in exile. To accuse them of violating European values.”

Puigdemont added: “A Catalan state will be an example of hope that political problems can be solved in a democratic way. And also, like Scotland, an effort to create a more democratic world. Self-determination must be the soul of a new Europe as it always has been in the past.”