Jailed figures from pro-Catalan independence drive request release

A Supreme Court judge heard statements on Friday from the 10 former ministers and association heads, and will rule on Monday

Reyes Rincón
Police vehicles arrive at the Supreme Court in Madrid.
Police vehicles arrive at the Supreme Court in Madrid.CARLOS ROSILLO

The 10 people currently being investigated by the Spanish justice system for rebellion and sedition for their role in the Catalan independence challenge have appeared today before a Supreme Court judge to argue for their release from preventive custody. They needed to convince magistrate Pablo Llarena that they do not present a flight risk, nor will they destroy evidence or commit the same offenses.

Campaigning for the regional elections in Catalonia will start on December 5

The eight former Catalan government officials – including former deputy premier Oriol Junqueras (Catalan Republican Left, ERC) and the leaders of the ANC and Òmnium pro-Catalan independence associations – Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez, widely known as the two Jordis – were moved this morning from the various Madrid prisons where they are being held to the Supreme Court. Llarena warned the lawyers acting for the 10 that he would not make his decision until Monday, and all were taken back to jail after making their statements.

The hearings came a week after the court took on the case, after it was transferred up from Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional. Since then, the former Catalan government ministers and ex-leaders of ANC and Òmnium had been requesting an appearance before Judge Llarena to review the pre-trial custody imposed by the High Court, and to consider whether to release the 10 men and women.

According to judicial sources, the 10 assured the judge that they accepted the central government’s application of Article 155 in the wake of the unilateral declaration of independence voted through the Catalan parliament, but said that they “disagreed politically and legally” with the measure, which saw the region’s powers of self-government suspended.

The eight of the 10 who are running in the upcoming regional elections in Catalonia explained that they are not renouncing their objective of an independent Catalonia, but committed to achieving this without instigating violence and via “dialogue.” Some went even further in their explicit rejection of the unilateral independence route.

The former Catalan government officials are being investigated for rebellion and sedition

All of the statements before the judge were very brief, lasting between 10 and 20 minutes.

The former ministers and ex-presidents of ANC and Òmnium are counting on the judge ruling in a similar way as he did on November 9, when he released on bail five of the six former members of the Speaker’s Committee from the Catalan parliament (a sixth was released with no conditions). Llarena took this decision after the six people in question – including ex-Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell – pledged to respect Article 155 of the Constitution and stated that if they continued in politics they would do so without violating the Constitution. The 10 suspects still in prison have already stated in written documents presented to the Supreme Court that they will also comply with Article 155 and will renounce a unilateral approach to achieving independence for Catalonia.

If the judge agrees to release them on bail, the amounts requested could be paid on Monday and the 10 would walk free pending their trial.

For its part, the Supreme Court public prosecutor called today for the 10 pro-independence leaders to remain in jail. After they appeared before the judge, the prosecutor argued that, “given the seriousness of the facts being investigated,” they should be held in custody. “[…] The public prosecutor considers that there is currently still a flight risk and of repeat offenses,” a spokesperson for the prosecutor announced.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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