The former vicepresident of Catalonia is imprisoned without bail since November 2, 2017 accused of rebellion, sedition and misappropiation of public funds. He faces 25 years in prison
Oriol Junqueras was the vice president of the Government of the Generalitat of Catalonia and Minister of Economy and Finance when the referendum was held on 1 October 2017. He is in custody since 2 November 2017, accused of a crime of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of public funds for which he is asked a 25 year prison sentence.
Oriol Junqueras / Jordi Borràs
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. A week later he was called 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 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.
Oriol Junqueras is the main defendant of the case against the independent leaders in the Supreme Court. The prosecutor accuses him of being the engine of the rebellion.
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. In the case of the 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.
To date, numerous appeals have been filed to the Spanish courts and none of them have prospered. In February 2018, Junqueras filed an appeal to the Constitutional Court regarding his preventive imprisonment. To date, the Constitutional Court has not issued a resolution yet.
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.
On the other hand, the preventive prison 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.
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.