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The defence lawyer of jailed Catalan MEP-elect Oriol Junqueras has requested the immediate release of his client, in response to last week's European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling and to the call by Supreme Court judge Manuel Marchena for all parties to express their opinion.

"In view of the obvious discordance between the opinion expressed by the ECJ and the offer previously made by the [Spanish Supreme Court], it is now time to analyze the extent of the immunity which Oriol Junqueras has had since June 13th, 2019 and grant full legal effect to this condition" says lawyer Andreu van den Eynde in his submission, putting in relief the contradiction between the opinion of the Spanish court, which refused to release Junqueras to formally take up his position as an MEP, ruling that he had no immunity and had to previously swear allegiance to the Constitution, and the view of the ECJ, which makes it clear that his status as an MEP was achieved on June 13th when the election results were officially proclaimed.

Van den Eynde's text argues that the Supreme Court had to ask for suspension of his immunity as an MEP if it wanted to maintain Junqueras in provisional prison and failed to do so despite the fact that the Catalan politician was already a fully-fledged MEP: "Mr Junqueras acquired all the rights and immunity of European parliamentarians and his seat cannot continue to be vacant. The restrictions adopted by this court must therefore end."

He emphasizes that the court "violated Mr. Junqueras' political and civil rights, as well as European Union law," and that he must be released before conviction to secure his rights.

 

 

The ECJ ruling does not speak of the current situation. Junqueras is now serving his sentence and his provisional prison has ended. But the ruling does acknowledge the immunity of the ERC President as an MEP and his right to take up his office and travel to the European Parliament to perform his functions. A proposal that is at present incompatible with the current situation of serving a prison sentence.

Junqueras' defence stresses that "no national interpretation may impede European parliamentarians from performing their duties" and calls for his "immediate release".

With arguments having been presented by the defence and the public prosecutors (the latter having done so on Thursday, just hours after the ECJ's ruling), now trial judge Manuel Marchena only awaits the opinion of the state solicitors' office, which is expected to recommend a path for the Supreme Court to take that could also open the way for the investiture of Pedro Sánchez as new Spanish PM.

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