The Spanish Supreme Court has rejected suspending the decision of Spain’s Electoral Authority (JEC) that prevents Oriol Junqueras taking up his seat as an MEP.
The Catalan pro-independence jailed leader 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.
Spain’s Electoral Authority (JEC) ruled on Friday 3 January that Junqueras would not be allowed to receive his accreditation as an MEP.
ALSO READ: Puigdemont, Junqueras, Comín now officially recognised as MEPs
The European Parliament, however, 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.’
Junqueras’ lawyer Andreu van den Eynde commented on Twitter shortly afterwards: ‘He is MEP, he has immunity, he has to be freed in order to attend the European Parliament.’
ALSO READ: Junqueras: ‘I consider myself a political prisoner’
This European parliament announcement came a few weeks after the European Court of Justice confirmed Junqueras should have been freed in June, right after being elected as an MEP in the EU election in May, because he should have been granted immunity from that moment. Spain denied it in June.
Junqueras was also elected president of European Free Alliance (EFA) group in the European Parliament on Tuesday. The EFA group forms a joint parliamentary group with the European Greens (Greens/EFA), making it the fourth largest group in the parliament. Junqueras also becomes First Vice President go the Greens/EFA.
ALSO READ: Quim Torra ratified as Catalan president, despite electoral authority ruling
Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his former minister Toni Comín, both in exile in Belgium, were able to pick up their definitive MEP accreditation on Monday. They are expected to attend the session next week in Strasbourg, and the three Catalan leaders have already been given their own profile pages on the website of the European Parliament.
Meanwhile, the Spanish Supreme Court will still need to decide whether the extradition case against Carles Puigdemont is dropped – although it is more likely that it is suspended whilst judges ask the EU Parliament for official permission to prosecute the three Catalan MEPs.
ALSO READ: Brussels suspends arrest warrants for Puigdemont and Comín
Meanwhile, three of the Catalan leaders jailed for their role in the 2017 referendum have called for their trial to be annulled in application of the EU court ruling granting immunity to Oriol Junqueras, as MEP right after he was elected.
Josep Rull, Jordi Turull and Jordi Sànchez have all filed an appeal in Spain’s Constitutional Court to be granted freedom and the annulment of their trial.
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