Attorney General opposes release of jailed Catalan leaders to take seat in Spanish parliament

Court to decide if five pro-independence politicians elected in past election can leave prison to assume posts

Jailed leaders Raül Romeva (left) and Oriol Junqueras (by ACN)
Jailed leaders Raül Romeva (left) and Oriol Junqueras (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona / Madrid

May 9, 2019 01:23 PM

Spain’s Attorney General has opposed the release of five pro-independence leaders so they can take the parliamentary seats they won in the April 28 general election.

The final decision will be up to the Supreme Court, where the five politicians are facing trial along with seven other colleagues for their role in the 2017 independence bid, when Catalan authorities called a referendum and declared independence despite Spain’s opposition.

With the public prosecutor requesting prison sentences of up to 25 years, some pro-independence leaders have already spent over a year and a half behind bars without bail.

As candidates for Catalonia’s two main pro-independence parties, the five politicians were authorized to run in the general election from prison, and they even held press conferences via videolink.

Former vice president Oriol Junqueras was the top Esquerra (ERC) candidate. He was the most voted candidate in Catalonia two weeks ago and secured the first pro-independence party victory in a Spanish election in over 80 years.

Jordi Sànchez, an activist turned politician in prison for allegedly leading a protest against Spanish police raids, was the leading candidate for Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), the party founded by former president Carles Puigdemont who is currently exiled in Belgium.

However, it was never entirely clear whether they would be allowed to effectively assume their posts if elected, even if they are temporarily authorized to leave prison to take the Spanish parliament oath of office.

Trial must go on

The Attorney General also rejected claims that the Supreme Court needs authorization from the two chambers of the Spanish parliament, the Congress and the Senate, to continue with the Catalan independence trial since some of the defendants are MPs-elect and therefore have parliamentary immunity.