Junqueras’ hearing in Supreme Court underway
The court will decide whether to release Catalan leader or to keep him behind bars
The hearing to decide whether to keep Oriol Junqueras in prison or to release him is already underway. The incarcerated vice president is speaking before the Spanish Supreme Court, which will decide whether to let the Catalan leader out on bond or not. It’s been more than two months that the Catalan vice president, deposed after the enforcement of Article 155 by the Spanish government, was sent to prison without bail along with seven of his colleagues.
The first to speak at the hearing will be Oriol Junqueras’ lawyer, Andreu van den Eynde. In the arguments he presents for the release of his client will be "the atmosphere of calm" since the December 21 elections, that Oriol Junqueras' party Esquerra Republicana based their campaign on "genuine" support for "dialogue and bilateralism" and since Junqueras was elected as an MP, his right to political participation must be guaranteed. If the court sees it fit, Oriol Junqueras himself might be able to speak at the end.
At 9:20 this morning, the deposed vice president was moved to the Spanish National Court, and then to the Supreme Court, from the Estremera Madrid prison where he is being held. In early December, the Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llanera made the decision to keep Junqueras and his colleague in holding, but today’s choice will instead be made by the magistrates Miguel Colmenero, Alberto Jorge Barreiro and Francisco Monterde.
Six of the eight jailed Catalan officials were released from prison on December 4. They were freed after being held in custody charged with sedition and rebellion, and only after paying bail of €100,000. Junqueras and the Catalan home affairs minister, Joaquim Forn, are the only Catalan officials still kept in prison.
Spanish prosecutor requested Junqueras be kept in prison
Attorney van den Eynde requested his client be summoned in the hopes of being able to revisit the sentence and for the deposed minister to be let out on bond. As the attorney explained in an interview with Catalan public radio, "There are thousands of measures less severe than pre-trial prison."
Yet, the most likely outcome is for Oriol Junqueras to be kept in jail, as the Spanish prosecutor has already requested this of the three magistrates. If Junqueras is not released on bond, his defense has explained that he plans to request a relocation to a Catalan prison, so that the vice president may be able to leave to attend Parliament plenary sessions, and even a presidential investiture ceremony, should he be chosen to lead the government.
Esquerra Republicana takes pragmatic approach
While remaining incarcerated since November 2, Oriol Junqueras did in fact run in the most recent December 21 Catalan elections, as number one on the ticket for pro-independence candidacy Esquerra Republicana (ERC), which took 32 seats in the hemicycle.
The spokesperson for ERC, Sergi Sabrià, also gave an interview regarding the potential release of the head of party, expressing that he believes it to “not be very probable.” While the spokesperson did also convey hope for the Supreme Court’s decision, he also stated that despite having full faith in the legal team, decisions on the matter are “political and not judicial.”
Oriol Junqueras was sent to the Madrid detention center in the first days of November along with seven of his colleagues. While six of the deposed ministers were released 32 days later, Oriol Junqueras and the minister for Home Affairs, who also ran on Carles Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia Ticket, remain behind bars. Their case was moved from the Spanish National Court to the Spanish Supreme Court, the latter of which has more often offered the possibility to pay bail than its counterpart.