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Jailed Catalan politicians can attend parliament opening: Spain court

AFP  |  Madrid 

Five jailed Catalan separatists elected in polls last month will be allowed to attend the first day of Spain's national parliament on May 21, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

But the court also ruled against definitively releasing the five, including Catalonia's former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, as demanded by their lawyers.

All five have been in custody for more than a year over their role in Catalonia's secession attempt in October 2017 and are currently on trial in Madrid, charged with rebellion.

During the parliament's opening session, they will have to promise to comply with the Spanish constitution which pledges the "unbreakable unity" of Spain.

Junqueras, who led the list of his ERC separatist party, was elected to Spain's lower house of parliament in the general elections held on April 28.

Others elected to the lower house were civic leader Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Turull, Catalonia's government spokesman at the time of the failed attempt to break from Spain.

Both were candidates for Together for Catalonia, the party of Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain and avoided arrest.

Josep Rull, also part of Catalonia's regional government at that time, was another elected to the lower house.

Raul Romeva, in charge of Catalonia's foreign affairs at the time of the secession bid, was elected to the upper house Senate.

They were all part of a push to hold an independence referendum in October 2017 in defiance of a court ban.

That sparked Spain's deepest political crisis in decades.

The referendum in the wealthy northeastern region was followed by a short-lived declaration of independence.

Spain's then conservative prime minister moved in, taking direct control of the region, sacking the Catalan executive and calling snap polls.

That prompted Puigdemont and others to flee Spain.

Those Catalan leaders who remained in Spain were arrested and are now on trial in the Supreme Court in Madrid.

The court decided to allow them out on May 21 citing "the need to not jeopardise the right to participate" in

It ruled they would have to "immediately go back to the penitentiary centre" once the session closed.

In rejecting their permanent release from jail pending judicial proceedings, the court argued provisional custody "does not violate their rights" to freedom of expression and opinion.

Spain's April elections saw Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's socialists win but without the necessary majority to govern solo in a fragmented political landscape marked by the far-right's entry into parliament.

As such, Sanchez could need the backing of Catalan separatist lawmakers like the five jailed politicians.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 14 2019. 19:36 IST