Case 22

Oriol Junqueras, Catalan Vice President sentenced to 13 years in jail

The former vicepresident of Catalonia was sentenced to 13 years in jail for sedition and misappropiation of public funds after more than 700 days in pre-trial detention.

Oriol Junqueras testifies at the trial against Catalan separatists, accused of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of public funds. (14-02-2019)

Description

Oriol Junqueras was the vice president of the Catalan Government and Minister of Economy and Finance when the referendum was held on 1 October, 2017. He was in custody since 2 November, 2017, accused of a crime of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of public funds for which he was asked a 25 year prison sentence.

On 14 October, 2019, and after more than 700 days in pre-trial detention, Oriol Junqueras was finally convicted to 13 years in prison and a 13-year ban on holding public office for the crimes of sedition and embezzlement of public funds.

Junqueras: “We are committed to decide our future through the ballot boxes” statement before the Catalan Referendum (22-05-2017)

Spanish court says Catalan separatist Junqueras must stay in jail after two months in pre-trial detention. EuroNews (5-1-2018)

Before

Oriol Junqueras was appointed vice president of the Generalitat and Minister of Economy and Finance after the victory of the pro independence coalition Junts pel Sí in the 2015 elections. A few months later, the government presided by Carles Puigdemont announced the holding of a referendum on self-determination. Oriol Junqueras’ party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, claims that the vice president assumed the organization of the referendum.

On 27 October 2017, Junqueras was removed of his position as a result of the application of article 155 of the Constitution by the Spanish Senate, and Madrid took direct rule over Catalonia. A week later he was summoned to the Audiencia Nacional -the former francoist Court of Public Order- to declare in the instruction procedure instituted by the Prosecutor General. That same day, the judge of the Audiencia Nacional Carmen Lamela decreed his imprisonment and sent him to the Madrid prison Soto del Real.

In December of that same year, Oriol Junqueras lead from prison the candidature of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya in the Catalan elections, called by the Spanish government after its dissolution of the Catalan parliament. He left his position of MP after having been elected for the Spanish Congress in the elections held on 28 April 2019. A month later he was also elected as MP for the European Parliament. To this day, he has not yet been able to take possession because the Supreme Court prevents him from doing so.

Junqueras’ vulneration of rights as an elected Member of the European Parliament can be found here.

Spain’s prosecutor has called for 25 years in jail for Catalonia’s former Vice President. Nine leaders of the Catalan separatist movement, including Oriol Junqueras, face charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement. / EuroNews (02-11-2018)

Former Catalan vice president tells court he is a ‘political prisoner’: “This is a political trial and I refuse to answer to my accusers… I am a political prisoner and I am on trial for my ideas,” Oriol Junqueras said.… / EuroNews (14-2-2019)

Full statement of Oriol Junqueras during the trial that convicted him to 13 years in prison (14-02-2019)

The outcome

Oriol Junqueras was the main defendant of the case against the independent leaders in the Supreme Court. The prosecutor accused him of being the engine of the rebellion, a crime which implies a high degree of violence. Throughout the trial, the defense filed several protests at the Supreme Court, understanding that the court’s restrictions when conducting the trial led to a violation of the right of defense.

Oriol Junqueras was suspended by the Supreme Court as a Member of the Parliament of Catalonia, which is an attack on his right of representation and an interference of the judiciary in the legislative power with the alteration of parliamentary majorities. Later on, when he was elected to the Spanish Congress, it was the Board who directly suspended him as a member of the Congress without waiting for the Supreme Court’s request.

Regarding his election as a Member of the European Parliament, Junqueras has not even been able to take possession because of the impediment of the Supreme Court. To this day, this issue is pending resolution of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Numerous appeals were filed to the Spanish Courts and none of them have prospered. On January 2018, the Supreme Court denied Junqueras appeal regarding his preventive imprisonment. 

On 1 February 2018, Mr. Junqueras, along with Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchezfiled a complaint with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, claiming that their imprisonment in Spain breaks international law. After a long deliberation, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published a report arguing that their detention and imprisonment are violations of fundamental rights – mainly their freedom of speech – and all three should be freed and paid compensation. Spain filed a complaint against this group and still holds Junqueras and the rest of the politicians convicted.

On 14 October 2019, after three months of trial, Oriol Junqueras was convicted to 13 years in prison and a 13-year ban on holding public office for the crimes of sedition and embezzlement of public funds. It is the highest punishment of the Catalan trial.

On 12 November 2019, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, Maciej Szpunar, issued the opinion that Junqueras has the right to be a Member of the European Parliament, despite the Supreme Court not letting him take up his seat after he was elected in the last European elections in May. 

On 19 November 2019, EU top judges from the European Court of Justice said that the politician had immunity from the moment he was announced a winner in the May 26 vote and elected as an MEP – and thus, he should have been freed as soon as he got his seat following the election. On the same day, the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli

Jody Williams, Noam Chomsky, Pep Guardiola, Angela Davis, Ben Emmerson, Bill Shipsey and Martín Caparrós demand Spain to release the nine Catalan prisioners, to solve this political conflict through dialogue and ask the Spanish institutions to stop their ideological repression.

Jailed pro-independence MP Junqueras drew most of the attention at the Spanish Parliament’s tense opening session. He oathed as a “political prisoners” while Spanish MPs try to interrupt him. / Catalan News (21-05-2019)

Spain’s Supreme Court blocked jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras from leaving prison to collect credentials to join the EU parliament. EuroNews (14-06-2019)

Violated rights

The judicial process against Oriol Junqueras violates his right to effective judicial protection and to a fair trial as provided in article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Specifically, the right to an impartial and ordinary judge, predetermined by law, as well as the right to a process with all the guarantees have been violated. The rights to ideological freedom and freedom of expression, protected by articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, have also been violated, while the principle of legality provided in article 8 of the abovementioned Convention has been broken. The rights violated during the trial are summarized in a report from International Trial Warch. 

On the other hand, the preventive prison —which lasted more than 700 days—  represents a violation of the right to the presumption of innocence and the right to freedom, protected by articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This violation was denounced by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary in a report.

With regard to his suspension as a Member of the Catalan Parliament and as a Member of the Spanish Congress, it is necessary to take into account the ruling issued by the European Court of Human Rights on 20 November 2018, in which it ruled that Turkey should release Selahattin Demirtas, the Kurdish representative in custody for more than two years. In that case, the European Court of Human Rights considered that the rights of Demitras as an MP had been seriously damaged and, in return, political pluralism and the Turkish democratic system were harmed.

Finally, the fact that Junqueras is not able to take possession as Member of the European Parliament  violates the right to political participation of his voters. It also violates the right to passive suffrage and representation of Junqueras who was allowed to run in the elections and has not been convicted by any court. On the other side, this exclusion violates the right to free elections and entails an alteration of the parliamentary majorities that questions the legitimacy of the European Parliament. 

The right to passive suffrage is recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes that everyone has the right of equal access to public service.

Europe’s top court ruled that a leading Catalan separatist should have been allowed to leave prison to take up his seat in the European Parliament.

Oriol Junqueras, former Vice President of Catalonia, became a Member of the European Parliament as soon as he was elected – so says the EU’s top court in Luxembourg. That means he enjoyed parliamentary immunity from that moment on, even if he was in pre-trial detention. EuroNews (20-12-2019)

The European Parliament has recognised the Catalan independentist leader, Oriol Junqueras, as an MEP. EuroNews 7-1-2020

‘EU parliament must protect its members,’ says UB professor Jordi Nieva-Fenoll. Catalan News 10-01-2020

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT | Puigdemont’s “Free Junqueras” poster as Sassoli announces their seats. 13-01-2020

References

Oriol Junqueras’ bio. ERC (in English)

Oriol Junqueras’ political profile. POLITICO (in English)

Dismissed vice-president to testify before Supreme Court. Catalan News (in English)

Judge sends Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, 7 ministers to prison without bail. ElNacional (in English)

Spanish court jails 8 former Catalan leaders without bail. POLITICO (in English) 

Catalan jailed ministers suffered “unjustifiably vexatious” treatment, says lawyer. Catalan News (in English)

Former Catalan vice president denied bail. Oriol Junqueras will not be free to campaign for the upcoming regional election. POLITICO (in English)

Catalan separatist leader Oriol Junqueras to remain in custody. POLITICO (in English)

Jailed Catalan separatist leaders file complaint with UN. POLITICO (in English)

Spanish court charges Catalan leaders with rebellion. POLITICO (in English)

Spain charges Catalan leaders. POLITICO (in English)

Catalan Separatist Leaders Get Lengthy Prison Terms for Sedition. The New York Times (in English)

ECJ Advocate General’s opinion on Oriol Junqueras. Press release from the Greens/EFA (in English).

EU court advocate general recognizes jailed Catalan leader Junqueras as an MEP. CatalanNews (in English).

EU court: Spain wrong to stop Catalan separatist Junqueras taking up MEP seat. POLITICO

EU Parliament president calls on Spain to ‘align with’ EU ruling on Junqueras’ immunity. Catalan News

Spain’s prosecutor asks top court to make Junqueras lose his MEP seat. Catalan News

Court ruling a ‘victory with a sting in the tail’ for Junqueras, say legal experts. Catalan News

Trio of Catalan Leaders to Be Recognized as EU Lawmakers. The New York Times

Jailed Catalan MEP Junqueras elected head of regionalist group in Parliament. POLITICO

Jailed Catalan leader Junqueras barred from taking European Parliament seat. POLITICO

Spain’s top court asks EU parliament to strip Catalan separatist leaders of immunity. Reuters

EU parliament strips Junqueras of MEP status. Catalan News

‘EU parliament should protect its members,’ says professor on Junqueras case. Catalan News

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