Former vice-president Oriol Junqueras sentenced to 13 years in prison for sedition and misuse of public fundsThe Supreme Court likewise sentences him to 13 years of disqualification from public office
Josep Maria Camps / Juli Rodés Almer
The president of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by the Supreme Court which found him guilty of the crimes of sedition and misuse of public funds. The high court has likewise sentenced him to 13 years of disqualification from public office.
The sentence, which was made public on Monday morning, speaks of the joinder of the crimes of sedition and misuse of public funds. In other words, both crimes are related and one leads to the other; therefore, rather than imposing one sentence for each crime, a single sentence is imposed for both, which must not surpass the sum of the two sentences separately.
Junqueras' defence counsel, Andreu Van den Eynde, made an ironic comment on Twitter on the fact that the sentence was published in the media before it reached him:
Li he dit al procurador (que anava corrents en moto per enviar-me Sentència) que no s'hi escarrassés que ja la tenia per premsa, no prenguéssim mal. Ara a llegir-la que és el que toca fer als advocats i, en unes hores, a defensar immunitat @junqueras davant TJUE #seguim Andreu Van den Eynde (@eyndePenal) October 14, 2019
I have told the prosecutor (who was rushing on his motorcycle to send me the Sentence) to take it easy, since I already got it through the press, and that I hoped he wouldn't take that the wrong way. Now us attorneys have got to read it and, in the coming hours, defends the immunity of @junqueras before the European High Court of Justice #seguim
Between 12 and 74 years
The various parties to the prosecution had asked for him to be condemned for the crimes of rebellion, sedition, misuse of public funds, disobedience and criminal organisation.
The main party to the prosecution, the State Attorney General, initially asked for a 25 year sentence for rebellion, misuse of public funds and disobedience, and this request became final at the end of the trial.
This was due to the fact that it deemed Junqueras to be the highest leader of a "generalised uprising sprinkled with acts of force, aggression and violence".
On the other hand, the Government Attorney's Office reduced the main charge to sedition, but it also requested the longest sentence for Junqueras: 12 years, less than half than the State Attorney General.
The popular prosecution exerted by far-right party Vox, on the other hand, asked for an extremely long sentence: 74 years, on two charges of rebellion and two of sedition.
To this they also added that of criminal organisation for Junqueras and all other former members of the government on remand. They asked for the same sentence, 74 years' jail, for all of them.
Junqueras: "I am a political prisoner in a political trial"
During the public hearing, Junqueras denied all charges and proclaimed himself a "political prisoner" in a "political trial".
He stated that the violence on 1-O was only exerted by the police, that it was not responded to and, moreover, that the referendum did not cost citizens "a single penny".
He also defended the legitimacy of defending the self-determination of Catalonia and added: "we will always strive for it".
He also stated that the offers for dialogue from the pro-independence movement towards the Spanish administration to find a "political solution" was met with an "ever-empty chair".
"Sending the ball back to politics"
In his closing statements, his defence counsel, Andreu Van den Eynde, stated that the parties to the prosecution did not have valid evidence for the charges they were pressing and that they were nothing but noise, exaggerations and "some lies".
In this regard, he reproached that the Government Attorney's Office did not defend the rights of the accused and supported "criminal repression".
According to the attorney, the parties to the prosecution were based on a "general case" against the pro-independence movement in which the State Attorney General and the Guardia Civil acted in concert.
Following this line of argument, the attorney stated that the charges were solely based on the so-called "criminal law of the enemy".
Directly addressing the members of the court presided by Manuel Marchena, Van den Eynde asked them to "send the ball back to politics" by acquitting the accused.
President and Member of Parliament for ERC from prison
Oriol Junqueras has been in prison since 2 November, only 6 days after the application of article 155 and the declaration of independence of 27 October.
He was sent to prison by National Court magistrate Carmen Lamela after the complaint filed by the State Attorney General that accused him and the entire government of rebellion, among other charges.
Being in prison in Madrid as well as in Lledoners has not prevented him from continuing to act as president of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya.
Neither has it stopped him from running for office: 9 days after entering prison, it was announced that he would be at the head of the list of his party for the 21D regional elections called by Rajoy.
Despite being elected, Junqueras was unable to attend any Parliamentary sessions because magistrate Pablo Llarena refused him permission to do so.
He and the other prisoners who were elected on 21D, however, were able to vote by delegation and continued to hold office remotely.
It was even suggested that Junqueras be candidate to president of Catalonia after the impossibility to hold the inauguration of Carles Puigdemont.
In July, when Junqueras and the other prisoners were taken to Catalonia, Llarena suspended him and the other prisoners on remand as members of Parliament, but he did not deregister himself.
Also an MP in Madrid and in Brussels
Junqueras left the Catalan parliament to top the ERC list in the 28A general election as well as the 26M European elections, in which he was even put forward as a candidate for presidency of the European Commission by the European Free Alliance group.
He was sworn in as a member of parliament, but the Spanish Parliament itself suspended him and the other politicians on remand when faced with an injunction from the Supreme Court.
However, despite the fact that he was elected as an MEP, the leader of ERC was unable to be sworn in because the court presided by Manuel Marchena denied him permission to get accredited and to attend the constitutive session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Junqueras declared in September that he would run again as head of the list for ERC in the 10N elections awaiting that European justice declares him immune as an elected MEP before the Supreme Court ruling which would predictably disqualify him from holding public office.