A LEGAL row over the withdrawal of parliamentary immunity for three MEPs took another twist yesterday when the bete noire of the Catalan independence movement said he would take the issue to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Pablo Llarena, a judge in Spain’s Supreme Court, has led the charge across Europe to have former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, and two of his former ministers Clara Ponsati and Toni Comin, extradited to face trial for their part in the 2017 indyref.

His efforts most recently failed when another European arrest warrant issued by Spain – this time for former culture minister Lluis Puig – was dismissed by a Belgian court.

Now the judge is planning to do battle with the ECJ over the Belgian court’s interpretation of the order against Puig.

READ MORE: Catalonia: Clara Ponsati's lawyer claims removal of immunity would be ‘cowardly’

However, Ponsati’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said the judge was becoming desperate.

“Sadly for Spain, Mr Llarena has made so many mistakes over the extradition warrants, this now seems to be another final desperate roll of the dice,” he said.

“What Llarena should remember is that human rights apply in the European Court of Justice even if they do not in Spain.”

The legal move came as a grassroots pro-indy group launched an international campaign against the withdrawal of the MEPs’ immunity.

Under the hashtag #DefendCataloniaSaveEU, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) said it wanted to raise awareness of the “persecution” of the three MEPs by Spanish authorities.

They are also concerned about the detention of rapper Pablo Hasel last week over his lyrics criticising the Spanish monarchy, which sparked seven days of protests.

This happened, said the ANC, “while former king Juan Carlos I is enjoying a lavish life in the UAE, fleeing from alleged corruption scandals”.

Elisenda Paluzie, ANC president, has written to MEPs urging them to vote against the waiver of immunity at the European Parliament’s plenary session next month. She said: “Despite repression and the many obstacles Spanish authorities are putting in its way through the use of lawfare, the Catalan pro-independence movement demonstrated its strength and resilience in the February 14 election, which saw a massive victory for pro-independence forces, with 52% of citizens voting in favour of independence.

“Pablo Hasel’s imprisonment has created a wave of surprise, alarm, and solidarity across Europe and the world, as political representatives and civil society organisations such as Amnesty International are increasingly questioning Spain’s democratic standards.”

Paluzie said Spain had continually degraded the European Union’s reputation and credibility, and added: “The Catalan National Assembly calls on members of the European Parliament of all 27 member states to vote against the immunity waiver for Catalan MEPs.”