Jailed candidate for president appeals blocking of appointment
Spanish court denied Catalan pro-independence leader Jordi Sànchez permission to attend session to swear him in as head of government
Jordi Sànchez, a jailed pro-independence leader who was to be appointed Catalan president on Monday, is appealing a Spanish judge’s decision denying him permission to leave prison and attend the parliament in order to be sworn in.
Sànchez was put forward as candidate for president by Carles Puigdemont, after the latter temporarily withdraw his bid to reclaim the office from Belgium, where he is seeking refuge from the Spanish justice. Sànchez was Puigdemont’s number two in an election last December.
While the pro-independence parties held on to a narrow majority in parliament, they have so far been unable to appoint a new president and regain control of the Catalan government, which was taken over by Madrid after a declaration of independence last October.
In the allegation, Sànchez’s defense team argues that the blocking of his appointment undermines not only the jailed leader’s political rights, but also those of more than two-million people who voted for pro-independence parties.
The parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, nominated Sànchez as the candidate last Monday, after the two main parties in favor of a Catalan state agreed on him. Sànchez asked the Spanish Supreme Court for permission to attend the Parliament for his investiture. The judge rejected it on Friday, which led Sànchez’s defense to announce they would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The speaker decided to postpone the parliamentary debate until the ECHR had its say. Yet on Sunday, Sànchez’s lawyers changed their minds and said they would not appeal to Strasbourg for the time being, because they first want to go through all the Spanish courts. They have initially filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, but as a last resort the issue could also end up in the Constitutional Court.
Sànchez, along with Puigdemont and 26 other pro-independence leaders, faces criminal charges for his role in the independence bid. He has been held behind bars since October 16, pending trial.