FILE - Jailed Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras leaves after getting his parliamentary credentials at Spanish Parliament, in Madrid, Spain, May 20, 2019.
FILE - Jailed Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras leaves after getting his parliamentary credentials at Spanish Parliament, in Madrid, Spain, May 20, 2019.

MADRID - Spain's Supreme Court on Thursday refused to recognize jailed Catalan separatist Oriol Junqueras as a European MP because of his October conviction over a failed 2017 independence bid.

In a long-awaited ruling, the court said it would not authorize his temporary release from prison to collect his European parliamentary credentials, thereby rejecting a December ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

"The court found that Junqueras should not be freed [to collect his MEP credentials] following his October conviction, which implies the suspension of his status as a European parliamentarian," it said.

Junqueras won a seat in the European Parliament in May elections, despite being in pre-trial detention in Spain on charges linked to his role in a banned Catalan referendum and a short-lived declaration of independence.

But he was prevented from leaving prison in June to attend a Spanish swearing-in ceremony, and thus from travelling to Brussels to take up his post, prompting him to file an appeal.

Last month, the ECJ ruled that Spain should have let him out to receive his credentials after the May elections, saying that even jailed MEPs benefited from parliamentary immunity.

Catalan separatists hailed the ruling as a victory.

But in its response to the ECJ, the Supreme Court decided against allowing him out to collect his accreditation.

It said that the traveling privileges recognized by the ECJ were "not a protective shield against the sentence" and rejected any grounds for the invalidation of the Catalan separatists' trial, which finished a day before Junqueras was declared an MEP-elect, nor of the resulting sentence.

The court said it had communicated its decision to the European Parliament as well as to Spain's Central Election Committee.