Spain’s Supreme Court denied former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras’ request to be released from prison on bail. Three judges ruled on Friday that Junqueras would remain in prison, where he has been for two months, believing that he could rejoin the pursuit of Catalan independence after his release. Junqueras has been held in prison since early November while investigators look into claims of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds against him.
Junqueras told the court he would obey the law if released, saying he is “a man of peace.” However, the judges said “there is no sign that the defendant has any intention of abandoning the route he has followed until now.”
Junqueras will now likely miss the beginning of the Catalan parliament’s new session, which starts on Jan. 17. The ex-official hoped to be involved with the regional government, his lawyer told the Guardian.
Meanwhile, former Catalan President Carles Pugidemont, who fled to Belgium shortly after the region’s independence vote, said that Junqueras and the three other ex-Catalan independence leaders still in jail were “no longer political prisoners; they are hostages.” The crisis in Catalonia began after 90 percent of Catalan voters favored independence in an Oct. 1 referendum vote — with the region hoping to secede from Spain.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fired back by implementing the “nuclear option” and removing Catalonia’s secessionist leaders — a prospect allowed by Article 155 of the Spanish constitution.
Pro-independence parties won a majority in a snap election held in December in the region of Catalonia. “The Catalan Republic has won, the Spanish government was defeated,” Pugidemont said. “They lost their coup d’etat.”
Many of Juniqueras’ supporters hoped he would assume the presidency in Pugidemont’s absence, but other party leaders rejected that notion. “There’s only one plan: restoring President Puigdemont and the legitimate government,” Together for Catalonia said on Thursday.