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Spain bans election rallies in prison where pro-independence candidates are held

Spanish government turns down petition by ERC party

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11 April 2019 07:53 PM

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ACN | Barcelona / Madrid

The Spanish government has turned down a petition from jailed pro-independence politicians running in the upcoming general election to hold campaign rallies at the prison where they are held.

Esquerra Republicana (ERC) requested permission to hold rallies in Soto del Real, the penitentiary center in the Madrid region where its top candidate and former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras is jailed.

Accused of rebellion for calling a referendum and declaring independence in 2017, and with prosecutors demanding a 25-year prison sentence, Junqueras one of the 12 Catalan leaders currently facing trial in Spain’s Supreme Court.

The Spanish home affairs ministry dismissed his petition invoking security reasons, the need to preserve coexistence among inmates, as well as to avoid interfering with the ongoing trial, and to preserve the neutrality of public institutions.

Supreme Court turns down freedom request

Earlier on the day, the Supreme Court rejected a request from Junqueras and five other pro-independence politicians to leave prison in order to take part in the campaigns for the Spanish general election on April 28, and the local and European elections on May 26.

The court denies that standing for election while in jail undermines their political rights, and argues that keeping the politicians in custody "ensures" that they are at the disposal of the court for as long as their trial lasts.

No electoral debates in prison

The electoral authority has also rejected the petition of another candidate, Jordi Sànchez, to hold debates in prison with the frontrunners of other parties during the campaign. The reason given is the request's "lack of precision."

Likewise, the same body turned down the pro-independence Esquerra party's request to prevent the far-right Vox party from acting as a private prosecutor in the Catalan trial during the campaign.

According to Esquerra, the proceedings give "more visibility" to Vox than electoral law allows to all parties.

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  • From left to right: former Catalan ministers Joaquim Forn, Raül Romeva, and Oriol Junqueras sitting in the dock at Spain's Supreme Court (EFE)

  • From left to right: former Catalan ministers Joaquim Forn, Raül Romeva, and Oriol Junqueras sitting in the dock at Spain's Supreme Court (EFE)