Oriol Junqueras, former vice president of Catalonia, became a Member of the European Parliament as soon as he was elected – so says the EU's top court in Luxembourg. That means, he enjoyed parliamentary immunity from that moment on - even if he was in pre-trial detention. The president of the European Parliement David Sassoli has one clear message for Spain.
"I call upon the competent Spanish authorities to urge them to comply with the ruling."
Meanwhile, the political party of Oriol Junqueras calls for his immediate release.
"I think that the European Court of Justice has been very clear and very overwhelming. I think that it is very clear that Oriol Junqueras has to be released and must take the deputy minutes," Diana Riba MEP told our reporter (Spain, Greens/EFA)
But it is not a given. The ruling refers to the past when Oriol Junqueras was in pre-trial detention. He was since condemned to 13 years behind bars. So could be too late.
"The ball is now in the field of the Spanish authorities. The Court clearly said that after the elections, the Spanish authorities would have had to apply for leave (of the immunity) from the European Parliament. It is not clear at this moment wether this still applies or whether it would make any sense to do that retroactively now," Sascha Hardt, Law Professor, University of Maastricht explains.
The former president of Catalonia is euphoric. His supporters want him to come back home. He also sent a tweet saying: see you soon at the European Parliament.
This case could be a get out of jail card for him and the other Catalan politicians that fled to Belgium, as they were also elected members of the European Parliament in May 2019.