Spanish Supreme Court keeps Junqueras in jail

Magistrates argue unanimously that there’s a “high risk” of criminal reiteration

The Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras (by ACN)
The Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

January 5, 2018 12:52 PM

The Spanish Supreme Court ruled to keep Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras, in precautionary jail at the Estremera prison, in Madrid. The three magistrates of the Spanish court Miguel Colmenero, Alberto Jorge Barreiro, and Francisco Monterde have reached the conclusion based on the hearing that took place yesterday, January 4. The Spanish prosecutor had already requested to keep the Catalan leader in prison, since the judiciary entity believes that Junqueras hasn’t “renounced illegal means” to achieve his political goals.

The magistrates dictated a document explaining that they believe there to be possibilities for crimes of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds, noting that there is a “relevant risk” of criminal reiteration because there is “no element” that leads the court to believe that Junqueras “has the intention of abandoning the path he’s followed up until now.”

This is the second time that the Supreme Court has turned down the deposed vice president’s plea to be let out on bond. After Junqueras as put incarcerated without bail with seven of his colleagues on November 2, six of them were let out on bond on December 4. However, at that time the Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena ruled to keep Junqueras as well as deposed Home Affairs minister Joaquim Forn and civil society leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart as he believed there to be risk for re-offending.

Risk of reiteration

Indeed, regarding the perceived risk of reiteration, the court stated that the commitment to dialogue that Junqueras and his lawyer argued for “was only asked for or thought of exclusively in reference to the way in which the Spanish state could lend itself to recognizing Catalonia’s independence,” which they argue would lead again to previous ways If it was rejected or prevented by the Spanish government. 

“Offering this class of dialogue or invoking bilateralism in these conditions, therefore, cannot be valued as proof of abandoning a clash with the state,” read the interlocutory sentence, “with the finality of obligating the Spanish government to recognize Catalonia’s independence.” That is, according to the Supreme Court, there is no data to show proof that Junqueras has abandoned the idea of a unilateral declaration of independence, and there is therefore a relevant risk of reiteration.

Right to participate in the political process

Regarding Junqueras’ current status of imprisonment and his right to participate in the elections and in the political process, the Supreme Court responds that the latter is a basic right of democracy, but it cannot void the consequences of a trial, even less so when the accusations are serious. In all, it explains that the exercise of political positions does not lead to impunity. The document also adds that Junqueras already knew when he ran in the elections that this trial was ongoing and that this may limit his political activity in some aspects. 

The 27-page interlocutory sentence begins by highlighting that defending the political option of the independence of one of the territories in the Spanish state is legitimate, as the Constitution allows for the defense of any political position included those who defend the dissolution of the Constitution itself, but it must be carried out without committing any crimes. Inasmuch, the document states it is not persecuting political dissidence nor pro-independence, and therefore “political prisoners are not an issue.”

Junqueras however, according to the Supreme Court interlocutory sentence, did not situate himself in this theoretical situation but instead went much further, participating as vice president of the Catalan government in a plan to unilaterally declare independence against the resolutions of the Constitutional Court.

The resolution analyzes if Junqueras’ act could fit with the crimes of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds, and it concludes that yes. The court also notes that it does not see the deposed minister as having personally participated in concrete acts of violence nor that he gave direct orders for them, but that “through the public defense of unilateral independence and beyond any consideration and respect for the law in force in the State of which Catalonia is part,” urged citizens to disobey the Constitutional Court and mobilize themselves, making it predictable for there to be violent confrontations.