Supreme Court ruling forces MPs to delegate vote from prison

The Supreme Court yesterday headed for its first collision in Spain’s democratic history over their rights of representation of MPs elected in the polls. In an unprecedented decision, the judge Pablo Llarena decided to continue the remand of Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn and Jordi Sànchez currently being held in Madrid’s Estremera Soto del Real prison which in effect will deny their right to attend the opening session of the new Catalan Parliament on Wednesday.

The ruling contradicts the precedent set on January 17, 1987 when the prisoner Juan Carlos Yoldi, later sentenced to 25 years in prison for belonging to ETA was permitted to attend the opening of the Basque Parliament. Llarena’s decision leaves Junqueras, Forn and Sànchez with the sole option of delegating their vote. Many jurists were surprised by the ruling which affects remand prisoners who have neither been tried nor sentenced nor prohibited from holding office. Paradoxically, the judges recognises the right of the three to take their seats in the House but also that House Rules do not consider imprisonment as a valid reason for absence from the session. The ruling also rubbed salt into the wounds by turning down the prisoner’s plea for transfer to Catalan prisons in order to be nearer their families.

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