The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has granted immunity to jailed Catalan pro-independence MEP-elect Oriol Junqueras. In a decision made public on Thursday morning, EU top judges say that the politician had immunity from the moment he was announced a winner in the May 26 vote and elected as an MEP – and thus, he should have been freed as soon as he got his seat following the election.

At that time, he was in provisional jail – and the ECJ says that if Spain’s judiciary wanted to keep him behind bars, they should have asked the European Parliament for permission, which did not happen. Yet, the EU court ruling came with Junqueras already serving a prison sentence and with him barred from public office, which gives uncertainty on whether the Spanish judiciary will take any step after Luxembourg decision.

The decision of the Luxembourg Court also affects exiled Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín, who have pending lawsuits filed in this same court because they have so far been barred from holding their MEP posts. Today’s clearly states that “a person who is elected to the European Parliament acquires the status of Member of Parliament as a result of and from the time of the declaration of the election, with the result that he enjoys the immunities guaranteed by Article 9 of the Protocol”.

The immunity question

The head of the pro-independence ERC party was sentenced to 13 years in prison for sedition by Spain’s Supreme Court in October for his role in the failed 2017 independence bid, when he was vice president of the Catalan government. He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in May 2019, while he was still being detained in provisional jail. Spanish authorities did not release him from prison in order to let him take the oath and take up his seat in the European Parliament.

Spain’s officials argued that an MEP only enjoys parliamentary immunity once the entire swearing in process is concluded, while Junqueras believed his immunity came into effect from the moment the official vote results were declared. Thursday morning’s ruling has sided with the jailed leader.

Combined-Shape Created with Sketch.

Ajuda VilaWeb
Ajuda la premsa lliure

VilaWeb sempre parla clar, i això molesta. Ho fem perquè sempre ho hem fet, d'ençà del 1995, però també gràcies al fet que la nostra feina com a periodistes és protegida pels més de 20.000 lectors que han decidit d'ajudar-nos voluntàriament.

Gràcies a ells podem oferir els nostres continguts en obert per a tothom. Ens ajudes tu també a ser més forts i arribar a més gent?
En aquesta pàgina trobaràs tots els avantatges d'ésser subscriptor de VilaWeb, a què tindràs accés a partir d'avui.