Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Catalan leader stopped from joining European Parliament by Spain

Oriol Junqueras faces an array of charges for his role in the 2017 Catalan independence bid

Oriol Junqueras has, however, been allowed to get his parliamentary credentials from Spanish Parliament. Reuters
Oriol Junqueras has, however, been allowed to get his parliamentary credentials from Spanish Parliament. Reuters

Spain's Supreme Court has blocked Catalan separatist leader Oriol Junqueras from leaving jail to join the European Parliament, to which he was elected on May 26.

Mr Junqueras was intending to collect his credentials, which he needs to take up his seat in Brussels. He is in prison awaiting the conclusion of trial over Catalonia’s attempt to gain independence from Spain.

Mr Junqueras had been planning to leave the prison he has been held in since 2017 to collect the papers.

In its ruling the Supreme Court said did not mean he would permanently lose his European seat. It added he must remain in jail while it concludes its deliberations surrounding the trial of 12 Catalan political leaders who led the region's secession push in 2017.

Mr Junqueras, the former deputy head of the region, is charged with rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for his part in organising a referendum and declaration of independence that were deemed illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court. He denies the charges.

Two other Catalan politicians won European Parliament seats in May but have also been unable to formalise their places because they will be detained if they return to Spain to collect their MEP papers.

The region's former leader Carles Puigdemont and local council member Antoni Comin have both lived in self-imposed exile in Belgium since arrest warrants were issued following the attempted secession.

Mr Junqueras was allowed to leave jail in May to collect his credentials as a member of Spain's lower house of parliament following April's election although he will not be able to serve as a lawmaker until the trial is concluded.

With additional reporting from Reuters

Updated: June 14, 2019 04:18 PM

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