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Montserrat Comas, spokesperson for the group Judges for Democracy in Catalonia, has said this Saturday that, to disqualify Catalan president Quim Torra from holding public office immediately, it would require the use of an element in Spanish electoral law created for cases involving those convicted of terrorism.

In an interview with Catalunya Ràdio, judge Comas explained that the legal precept that the political parties of the right, PP, Cs and Vox, are seeking to apply to Quim Torra's case was reformed in 2011, in response to issues connected to the Basque terrorist group ETA. It was thought, she said, "that people convicted of terrorism from Herri Batasuna should not be able to take their places in parliament once found guilty, even if the sentence was still open to appeal." Basque party Herri Batasuna was regarded by many as the political wing of ETA.

Barcelona's provincial electoral commission rejected the requests by these parties to fast-track the removal of Torra's credentials as a parliamentary deputy, a decision which they have appealed to the central electoral commission. Now, it is the central commission which has to decide.

Quim Torra was convicted of disobedience by the Catalan High Court on December 18th and banned from holding public office for 18 months, following his refusal to remove a banner calling for the release of the political prisoners from the Catalan government palace earlier this year. However, he immediately filed an appeal of his sentence to the Spanish Supreme Court, which under normal procedure should be considered before any action is taken to remove him from office.

The immunity of Junqueras 

In the case of the immunity of jailed pro-independence leader Oriol Junqueras as an MEP, judge Comas suggested that the Spanish Supreme Court's decision on how it intends to apply the European court ruling also will come after January 6th. The Barcelona magistrate pointed to two possible options.

The first would entail the suspension of Junqueras' prison sentence and his release while going through the formalities to take up his office as a Member of the European Parliament. The other option, according to Comas, would be to allow Junqueras to take up his office but then to ask the European chamber to suspend his immunity because he is now convicted. However, what Comas did rule out was for the sentence to be declared null and void, as his defence has demanded.

With regard to the PP's request to the central electoral commission to prevent Junqueras from being a MEP, Comas believes that the commission should declare itself ineligible to decide on the matter, as "the electoral commission cannot anticipate the Supreme Court" in deciding on the situation of the ERC party leader.



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