17th January 2020
Oriol Junqueras 'political prisoner'
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Supreme Court rules to keep Junqueras in jail, denying MEP immunity

The Spanish Supreme Court has now formally denied Catalan jailed leader Oriol Junqueras parliamentary immunity, and will not free him to receive his accreditation as an MEP. This is despite last month’s ruling in his favour from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

This new ruling on Thursday from the Supreme Court came shortly after it also rejected to suspend the Spanish Electoral Authority (JEC)’s decision to veto Junqueras as an MEP, as requested by the politician’s defence team.

The pro-independence leader and former Catalan vice-president Junqueras had hoped to be freed in the coming days in order to take up his seat as an MEP in the European Parliament‘s plenary session, beginning on 13 January in Strasbourg.

ALSO READ: Puigdemont, Junqueras, Comín now officially recognised as MEPs

Spain’s Electoral Authority (JEC) ruled on Friday 3 January that Junqueras would not be allowed to receive his accreditation as an MEP. 

The JEC is in charge of officially confirming who obtains seats after an election, whilst the Supreme Court is Spain’s top judicial institution.

Oriol Junqueras 'political prisoner'
Former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras (centre) sits with fellow former Catalan leaders during their trial at the Supreme Court in Madrid on 12 February 2019. (J.J.Guillén / AFP)

The European Parliament had confirmed his seat on Monday 6 January. In a communication it stated that, ‘Following the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union dated 19 December 2019, at the plenary sitting of 13 January 2020, the European Parliament will take note of the election as Members of the European Parliament’ of Comín, Junqueras and Puigdemont ‘with effect from 2 July 2019.’

A profile for Oriol Junqueras already features on the EU Parliament’s website.

ALSO READ: Catalan Trial verdict and sentences – up to 13 years

Junqueras was elected MEP when his trial was still underway and he was in custody. The EU court ruling stated that he should have been freed then since he had not been sentenced, but did not explicitly rule on his current post-verdict status.

Although the Supreme Court concedes that Junqueras should have been released after the European election, the judges have argued that the question of his immunity is no longer applicable as he has already been convicted and disqualified from public office.

Oriol Junqueras MEP
Oriol Junqueras already appears with an MEP profile page on the EU Parliament’s website. (EU Parliament)

ALSO READ: Junqueras: ‘I consider myself a political prisoner’

The judges also state that they do not intend to launch an official procedure to ask the European Parliament for permission to try him, because his conviction already is final and as such they also reject his defence team’s petition to nullify his sedition sentence.

One of the arguments the Supreme Court judges used to justify their decision was that the sentencing handed down to him for his role in the 2017 independence bid was final and includes a 13-year prison term and disqualification from public office.

Click here for all articles and updates the Catalan Trial, verdicts and sentencing

 

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