European parliament gets involved in jailed Junqueras immunity case

Chamber president agrees to legal committee's demands to send institution's views on issue ahead of hearing on October 14

Oriol Junqueras's photo sits atop an empty seat in the European parliament beside ERC party colleague Diana Riba. (Photo: Blanca Blay)
Oriol Junqueras's photo sits atop an empty seat in the European parliament beside ERC party colleague Diana Riba. (Photo: Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 3, 2019 02:05 PM

The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, has agreed to send the institution's observations on the parliamentary immunity of jailed political leader, Oriol Junqueras, to the European court handling the case. 

The former Catalan vice president, who is awaiting a verdict in the referendum trial, was elected an MEP in the May 26 election – but Spain’s judiciary stopped him from going through the steps necessary to take up his seat. 

The move comes after the EU chamber's legal affairs committee on Tuesday called on Sassoli to send the views of the institution’s legal service to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.

The Social Democrats, the Liberals and the Greens voted in favor of the move, while the People’s Party, and the Conservatives and Reformists rejected it, the Catalan News Agency (ACN) learned. 

Junqueras’ immunity case

On October 14, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), with a seat in Luxembourg, will hold a hearing on whether or not Oriol Junqueras has parliamentary immunity as an MEP even though he has not been able to take up his seat. 

The Esquerra party leader was elected as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in May, but was not permitted to leave prison in order to take the oath of office and officially take up his seat.

Junqueras argues that his election to the European chamber means he should be given parliamentary immunity, and therefore be freed from jail, where he is currently awaiting the verdict of the Catalan Trial.

The Supreme Court asked the European High Court at the beginning of July on the scope of the immunity of the former Catalan vice president, a query that he made against the opinion of the prosecutor's office.

EU parliament speaker under pressure

Specifically, the Supreme Court are asking the Court of Justice whether Junqueras enjoys parliamentary immunity despite not having completed the accreditation process, and if so, whether he has the right to be allowed out of prison to do complete that process and attend the European Parliament. 

Previously, Junqueras's seat as an MEP was declared 'vacant' by the Spanish authorities as the European Parliament held its first plenary session weeks ago.

The new president of the European Parliament, David-Maria Sassoli, has come under pressure from different sides to allow Junqueras to take his seat as an MEP.