He is a candidate to be the next President of the European Commission. But Catalan independentist leader Oriol Junqueras is in jail - waiting to be tried on crimes of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement - following Catalonia’s unofficial referendum and declaration of independence in 2017.
In an exclusive interview authorised by Spain’s Electoral Commission, Junqueras told Euronews he would do it all again if needed: “Of course,” he said. “We will never regret giving a democratic voice to citizens. We will never regret defending democracy. How are we going to regret defending democracy?”
Junqueras also said his party was prepared to help Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez form a new government.
“We’re not in favor of setting out red lines or giving blank cheques,” he said. “We are in favor of talking, holding a dialogue and explaining our position.”
And he called on Europe’s institutions to show greater support for the Catalan cause:
“Democracy should always receive the support of democrats,” he said. “And the ability of citizens to vote is an absolutely fundamental democratic right. And so we’re convinced the opinion of citizens who vote must be heard by everyone. And we’re convinced that an increasingly strong and increasingly integrated Europe is a Europe that must be sensitive to the fact that while we were defending the right to vote, someone was giving orders that citizens going to vote should be beaten with truncheons; when we defend dialogue and conciliation, the answer that we get is to be put in jail.”
Junqueras can stand in the European elections because he’s not yet been judged - a conviction would have disqualified him. He heads the list of his party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya. And he’s also the lead candidate of the European Free Alliance group, which brings together nationalist, regionalist and autonomist parties in the European Parliament.
Watch Ana Lazaro’s interview in the video player above