31st May 2023
Oriol Junqueras and Pedro Sánchez
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Calls for immediate release of Oriol Junqueras

Former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, has been one of the first to call for the immediate release from jail of his former vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, after the EU Court of Justice ruled that he has immunity for being elected as an MEP back in May.

The Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party led by Junqueras – and with whom the PSOE socialist party of Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez is currently in negotiations to pave the way for Sánchez’s investiture – has also called for the immediate release of Junqueras.

From jail, Oriol Junqueras himself has stated: ‘Justice has arrived from Europe. Our rights and those of 2 million citizens who voted for us were violated. Annul the verdict and freedom for all! Persist like we have!’

ALSO READ: EU Court of Justice rules Oriol Junqueras has immunity

The EU’s ruling will also have repercussions on the situation for Carles Puigdemont and former health minister Toni Comín. Both also won seats in the European Parliament in May, and have been prevented from taking up their seats.

Puigdemont and Comín are both fighting extradition from Belgium, where they have been living since late October 2017. Earlier this week a Belgian court agreed to postpone their extradition hearing until 3 February, also waiting for the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling on Junqueras’ immunity.

It is unclear how the ruling for Junqueras will affect the two exiled MEPs-elect, as Spain’s Supreme Court insisted in November that they do not have parliamentary immunity despite the views of the ECJ’s advocate general, Maciej Szpunar, that he should have been allowed to take up his position as an MEP.

ALSO READ: All Spanish MEPs able to take oath in Madrid … except three

The EU Parliament president, David-Maria Sassoli, has pledged to ‘comply with the law’, stating in November that he is willing to ‘review’ his opinion on the status of the Catalan pro-independence MEPs-elect ‘if necessary’.

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