The European Parliament dashed the hopes of Catalan jailed former vice president Oriol Junqueras on Friday when it upheld a veto by Spain’s electoral board and announced the termination of his mandate as an MEP.

Earlier in the week, Spain’s Supreme Court had refused Junqueras permission to take up his seat in the EU chamber in response to the European Court of Justice’s ruling that the jailed leader has immunity after winning a seat in May.

Before Friday’s announcement, procedural law professor at Barcelona University, Jordi Nieva-Fenoll, told the Catalan News Agency that the EU chamber should protect Junqueras as an MEP and talked about what lies ahead for the jailed leader.

– Did the Supreme Court’s decision go against that of the EU court? 
– What the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in its judgment was very clear: Junqueras had to be set free in order to let him go to the EU parliament to become an MEP. But the Supreme Court overlooks this conclusion of the European judgment and just tells us that it has no bearing on Spanish criminal procedure.

– Isn’t the Supreme Court right in saying that Junqueras no longer has immunity because he has been convicted? 
– I think this interpretation is misleading. Maybe the ECJ’s wording was not so clear but I think it said that the provisional detention of Junqueras was incompatible with his immunity. If you don’t consider that provisional detention to be compatible with immunity, how can you say that the definitive conviction is compatible with immunity? That’s why I think that the Supreme Court’s interpretation is not the right one. I think what the Court of Justice wanted was for Junqueras to be set free.

– Should the EU authorities take any action?
– The EU parliament should protect its members, and Junqueras is one of its MEPs. As the EU parliament, I’d make a public declaration defending Junqueras’ condition as an MEP and would ask the ECJ to clarify its judgment. Furthermore, the European Commission should also be involved to protect the fulfillment of the ECJ’s judgment.

– If the EU authorities take no action, can Junqueras do anything?
– He has possibilities to appeal this decision. He first has to go to the Supreme Court in Spain and then to the European Court of Human Rights, but this would take about three or four years in the best of cases. If the EU parliament does not protect him, he can also go to the General Court of the EU, although this is not a clear procedure or a procedure with a clear end. I’d go to this court in any case, although I can’t foresee what the decision would be in this case. Apart from that, we shall have to wait for the pronouncements of the EU parliament and commission.

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