EU court rejects jailed leader's appeal over European Parliament decision on MEP seat
Oriol Junqueras to challenge decision after court maintains it cannot oppose Spanish ruling
The European General Court rejected jailed pro-independence leader Oriol Junqueras' appeal over the EU parliament decision to strip him of his MEP status last January, as was announced on Tuesday evening.
According to the Luxembourg court, it does not have the authority to oppose Spain's Supreme Court ruling disqualifying the head of Esquerra Republicana (ERC) from public office and therefore preventing him from becoming an MEP.
Junqueras announced he would challenge the decision in the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU's highest. The Catalan leader's plan is to ultimately bring his case before the European Court of Human Rights, independent from the European Union.
Junqueras, who was the Catalan vice president during the 2017 referendum, was allowed to run in the May 2019 European election despite already being in prison for organizing the vote. Under a month later he was convicted to 13 years behind bars for sedition and misuse of public funds.
The ERC politician won a seat in the election, but Spanish authorities did not confirm his status as he was not granted provisional leave from prison to take an oath on Spain's constitution.
On December 19, 2019, the European Court of Justice confirmed he had immunity as an MEP-elect. The EU chamber then accepted his seat on January 6, with effect from July 2, 2019, but three days later, Spain's Supreme Court denied that he had immunity on the grounds that the ECJ decision applied to the time when he was in provisional detention awaiting sentencing. According to the judges, since he was sentenced to prison and disqualified from public office in October 2019, he no longer had the right to be MEP.
A day later, on January 10, the European Parliament stripped him of his MEP status with effect from January 3, when the Spanish electoral board first brought the issue up before the Supreme Court's final decision.