EXILED former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is bidding for a seat in the European Parliament and has said he will return to Catalonia under parliamentary immunity should he succeed in the May 26 poll.

Puigdemont, who heads the Together for Catalonia (JxCat) parliamentary group, went into self-imposed exile in Belgium after his government declared independence from Spain following the October 2017 independence referendum.

He promised to return if he was elected in the election called by Spain the following December, but remained in exile to avoid being arrested on sedition and rebellion charges. He is currently suspended as an MP.

However, in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC 1, he said the EU would guarantee his immunity from prosecution and allow him to re-enter Spain to take his seat should he win. Puigdemont said: “From the moment the results are declared, the immunity works,” adding that the requirement for MEPs to register in their own member state did not have to be carried out in person.

“Europe has the last word on this, not the Spanish Electoral Board,” he said.

The European Parliament, though, has a different view and has advised Puigdemont that it would be up to the central government in Madrid to decide if he could take his seat, as he would be required to swear allegiance to the Spanish constitution before the electoral board within five days after the election.

“If you represent Spain, you have to do what Spanish electoral law tells you to do,” sources told the Catalan News agency (ANC).

Several of Puigdemont’s parliamentary colleagues, who are on trial for their part in the Catalan referendum, are also seeking electoral success.

Former foreign minister Raül Romeva, is planning to contest a seat in the Spanish Senate in the April 28 general election for the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC).

His party leader and the former Catalan vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, will run for a seat in Spain’s Congress, as well as the European Parliament.

Montse Bassa, sister of former labour minister Dolors Bassa, who is also being tried over the independence bid, will lead the Girona ticket in the congressional poll.

Another of those on trial – Jordi Sànchez – has been nominated by 81% of the Crida Nacional (National Call) to head JxCat’s electoral list for the Spanish general election.

Former interior minister Quim Forn, who is also on trial, has been nominated as the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) candidate for mayor of Barcelona.

READ MORE: Catalan MPs launch monarchy inquiry after independence referendum Spanish judge 'trivialising' police violence OBSERVERS at the trial of Catalan pro-independence leaders have criticised the actions of judge Manuel Marchena which they said were “trivialising” police violence during the 2017 referendum.

A group from International Trial Watch (ITW), who attended the fourth week of the trial of 12 pro-independence activists in Madrid, said that by refusing to allow some witnesses’ credibility to be verified and by limiting defence questions, Marchena had allowed “the trivialisation of the police violence used on October 1, 2017”.

They said the judge had repeatedly denied “especially the defence”, the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and had interrupted the lawyers, particularly “when the topic of police violence against voters” arose. They said that could “put into doubt the right to defence, equality of arms and, in short, the right to a fair trial”.