Jailed Catalan leader was lawmaker and entitled to immunity, says EU court

File picture shows Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras attending the first session of parliament following a general election in Madrid, Spain, May 21, 2019. — Reuters pic
File picture shows Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras attending the first session of parliament following a general election in Madrid, Spain, May 21, 2019. — Reuters pic

LUXEMBOURG, Dec 19 — A jailed Catalan separatist leader was a member of the European Parliament despite not being able to take up his seat and so enjoyed the immunity that position guaranteed, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said today.

The ruling is a boost for the Catalan separatist movement and Oriol Junqueras, who has been imprisoned in Spain since November 2017 after an illegal independence referendum. He was sentenced in October to 13 years in jail over sedition and misuse of public funds related to the region’s failed independence bid.

If Spanish authorities wanted to prevent Junqueras travelling to the European Parliament, they would have to request that the Parliament waive his immunity, the court ruled. — Reuters

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