Unionist Ciutadans: Jailed MPs taking seats affront to 'dignity of Spain'

With five pro-independence MPs and senator on trial in Supreme Court, debate begins over whether chamber bureaus will suspend them

Cs leader Albert Rivera tweeted a photograph of him giving Catalan leaders the cold shoulder
Cs leader Albert Rivera tweeted a photograph of him giving Catalan leaders the cold shoulder / ACN

ACN | Madrid

May 21, 2019 12:59 PM

With five jailed Catalan leaders allowed out of prison on Tuesday to take up their seats in the Spanish parliament  four in the Congress and one in the Senate  the question now is whether the bureaus of the newly-constituted chambers will decide to suspend them.

Though the Supreme Court suspended the five when they were sitting in the Catalan parliament, enforcing an article in Spain's criminal code ruling that an individual on trial for rebellion or terrorism can temporarily be suspended until a verdict is reached, it is now up to the Madrid legislature to interpret the court's ruling.

The unionist party Ciutadans (Cs) has already announced that it will request the newly-elected bureau to suspend them.

Cs: "Against the spirit of the chamber"

Despite support for the jailed leaders from their respective parties, the Cs leader Albert Rivera suggested that allowing them to take up their seats was an affront to the "dignity of the Spanish people."

"It is no longer a legal matter, it is about four people taking up seats who are charged with attempting a coup, which to me seems to go against the spirit of the chamber and democracy," Rivera told the SER radio station on Tuesday morning.

Pro-independence parties 'convinced' jailed MPs will avoid suspension

Laura Borràs, the spokeswoman for the Junts per Catalunya party (JxCat), to which three of the new MPs belong, said on Tuesday that Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull are "fully convinced" that they will not be suspended.

Speaking outside the lower house as the jailed leaders arrived to be sworn in, Borràs added that if the chamber's new bureau does decide to suspend the MPs it would show that their "rights are fake, and fitting for a fake democracy."

Suspension would "suspend general election result," says VP

Meanwhile, Catalan vice-president and high-ranking Esquerra (ERC) member, Pere Aragonès, warned that "suspending those who won the elections in Catalonia would be to suspend the result" of the April 28 general election.

ERC party leader and former vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, is one of the jailed leaders allowed to attend Congress on Tuesday to be sworn in as an MP, while his party colleague, Raül Romeva, took up his seat in the Senate.

All five of the newly-elected representatives are currently in custody while being tried in the Supreme Court for rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds over their part in organizing the failed independence bid in Catalonia in 2017.