European Parliament strips jailed Catalan leader of his seat

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Oriol Junqueras is to be stripped of his seat in the European Parliament | Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Move by David Sassoli comes after Spanish court ruling.

Jailed Catalan separatist leader Oriol Junqueras is to be stripped of his seat in the European Parliament, the assembly’s president said Friday.

David Sassoli said in a statement that Junqueras’ mandate would be terminated as of January 3. His announcement came a day after Spain’s Supreme Court decided against allowing Junqueras to travel to Strasbourg to take his seat in the Parliament.

In December, Europe’s top court ruled that Junqueras should have enjoyed immunity as an MEP and been allowed to take his seat. Based on that decision, the European Parliament said that Junqueras has been an MEP since he was elected, and would therefore recognize him at next week’s plenary session.

However, the Spanish Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Junqueras, a former vice president of Catalonia and leader of the Catalan Republican Left party, does not have immunity despite having been elected to the European institution.

Junqueras was elected to the European Parliament in May, despite being in jail in Spain. In October, he was jailed for 13 years after being convicted of sedition and the misuse of public funds related to the region’s failed independence bid in 2017.

The Supreme Court judges ruled they could not allow Junqueras to serve as MEP given the existence of the prison sentence, which under Spanish law means the automatic loss of his capacity to hold public office.

On Tuesday, Junqueras was elected as the head of the regionalist European Free Alliance in the European Parliament.

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