NEWLY elected MEP Carles Puigdemont was giving a lecture on the Catalan political crisis at the Oxford Union last night as he and two political colleagues prepared for a protracted legal battle to take their seats in Europe.

The former Catalan president and a former minister Toni Comin were elected on Sunday, along with former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, who is on trial over the 2017 independence referendum there. Puigdemont and Comin are in self-imposed exile in Belgium and face arrest on rebellion and sedition charges should they try to enter Spain.

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However, the trio are likely to face complex legal obstacles before being able to attend the European Parliament.

Junqueras has already taken his seat in the Spanish Congress, along with three other prisoners, and a fourth who was sworn in to Spain’s Senate. The five were suspended as parliamentarians days afterwards.

Under Spanish law, all new MPs, senators and MEPs must swear an oath of allegiance to the Spanish constitution at Spain’s Central Electoral Board (JEC) in Madrid, as well as collect the required documentation to take public office.

EU Parliament lawyers said in a report last month this had to be completed in person as Puigdemont and Comin would be arrested on the same charges on which Junqueras is being tried.

He is expected to be granted temporary release to go through the procedure, but he would have to give up his congressional seat as the two are incompatible.

However, Jordi Sebastia, a former Spanish MEP, told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) he was able to collect his European Parliament credentials before his swearing-in ceremony in Madrid and that in his case the oath was merely “a formality”.

Puigdemont and Comin would also have to renounce their claims to seats in the Catalan Parliament, but they are likely to appeal against that stipulation, claiming that a physical presence is not compulsory in other European countries.

The European Parliament has said the decision on the final list of MEPs is up to the JEC.

Junqueras said he would defend his rights “in all levels and before all possible judicial institutions”.