JAILED Catalan independence leader Oriol Junqueras was cheered by students yesterday as he enjoyed his first taste of freedom since being arrested, tried and sentenced to 13 years for sedition.

The leader of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and former Catalan vice-president was driven from Lledoners jail yesterday to the Manresa campus of the University of Vic (Barcelona), where he will teach history three days a week.

Around 100 students, teachers and other spectators cheered him into the building as he arrived, and Junqueras posted a video on social media from inside the university, writing: “Thanks to all the students for the welcome!”

READ MORE: WATCH: Jailed Catalan Oriol Junqueras cheered at University of Vic

He has his own office on campus and will work six hours a day for the Bages University Foundation (FUB), preparing the course he plans to teach from Easter. The university authorities said their intention was to make the presence of Junqueras on campus “as normal as possible”.

Under an article of Spanish penal law known as Section 100.2, medium-grade, or second-degree prisoners are entitled to such time outside once they have served a proportion of their sentence.

The National: Catalan independence leaders Paul Romeva, Jordi Turull, Oriol Junqueras and Carles PuigdemontCatalan independence leaders Paul Romeva, Jordi Turull, Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont

Junqueras is the latest of the former politicians and activists jailed for their part in the 2017 independence referendum to take advantage of this. Former foreign affairs minister, Raul Romeva, left prison for the first time on Monday, also for three days a week, to work for a private group evaluating the progress made in the 25 years since the Dayton peace accords ended the war in Bosnia.

Prosecutors have appealed against the application of 100.2 to the political prisoners, and a judge will now have to either ratify or annul it, although either side can appeal against this finding.Meanwhile, there was a new setback yesterday for Spain’s justiciary after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled it could not retroactively apply the penal code when issuing a European arrest warrant against a Mallorcan rapper.

Valtonyc was sentenced to more than three years in prison for terrorism, threats and insulting the crown in his lyrics.

Belgium, where the rapper went into exile, claimed that none of the charges was classified as a crime either there or in Spain.

The ECJ yesterday said Spain could not retroactively apply the penal code when activating a fast-track warrant against the singer. Judges said Madrid should not have asked for his extradition using an amendment of the penal code which was passed three years after the events for which he was sentenced.