SPANISH Supreme Court judges have rejected a bid by deposed Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras to be freed from prison on bail while he is investigated for rebellion and other charges stemming from the state’s drive for independence.

The judges – Miguel Colmenero, Alberto Jorge Barreiro and Francisco Monterde – gave their ruling yesterday following a hearing on Thursday.

They said there was a risk that Junqueras might commit further crimes as there was no indication that he intended changing his ways. He is one of several cabinet members sacked by Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy following the Catalan declaration of independence on October 1.

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Rajoy ordered an election in Catalonia on December 21 in a bid to halt the move towards independence, but that backfired when pro-indy parties won a majority of seats.

Junqueras was incarcerated without bail with seven of his colleagues on November 2, but six of them were bailed a month later.

At the time Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena ruled that Junqueras and deposed home affairs minister Joaquim Forn be kept in custody, along with civil society leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, as he believed there was a risk of them re-offending.

Colmenero announced the court order, highlighting that defending the independence of part of Spain was legitimate, given that the Constitution allows for the defence of any political position, but that it “must be championed without committing any crime”.

He said the court believed that Junqueras had gone “much further, taking part as vice-president in a plan to unilaterally declare independence contrary to the verdicts of the Constitutional Courts”.

The vice-president faces charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, and the judges said there was “no element” that led the court to believe he “has the intention of abandoning the path he’s followed up until now”.

Reaction to the ruling was swift and damning, with Junqueras’s party – the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) – announcing that they would appeal against it in the European Courts.

ERC spokesperson Sergi Sabrià told the Catalan News Agency they were not surprised by the decision. “We do not understand at all the decision that has been taken,” he said, adding that they were prepared for a Europe-wide battle to ensure that “the sooner the better, Junqueras is at home with his loved ones and doing politics”.

Sabrià hoped the vice-president’s request to be transferred to a Catalan prison was accepted so he could attend sessions of the new parliament.

Junqueras tweeted: “In the coming days, stay strong and united. Transform indignation into courage and perseverance. Anger into love. Always think of others. In what we have to redo. Persist because I will persist.”

Speaking from Brussels where he is in self-imposed exile, deposed president Carles Puigdemont said: “They are no longer political prisoners, they are hostages.”

Carme Forcadell, Catalan parliament president, said it was a “sad day”, and added: “The Three Kings will come, but today four fathers won’t be able to be with their children.”

Mayor of Catalan capital Barcelona, Ada Colau, said keeping Junqueras in prison was bad news for his family and democracy: “Discrepancies in politics are not only legitimate, they are positive and necessary,” she said.

Marta Pascal, from the pro- independence PDeCAT party, added: “They call it precautionary prison but it’s a punishment for those who think differently.”