CATALAN INDEPENDENCE DRIVE

Catalan government confirms more flexible regime for jailed separatist leaders

The decision, which the public prosecutor will appeal, means that politicians such as Oriol Junqueras will be spending just four nights a week in prison

Former Catalan deputy premier Oriol Junqueras leaving Lledoners prison on March 3 to teach at Vic University.
Former Catalan deputy premier Oriol Junqueras leaving Lledoners prison on March 3 to teach at Vic University.Susanna Sáez / EFE

The Catalan government’s justice department on Tuesday ratified a decision to grant nine jailed separatist leaders more flexible prison regimes. Under Spain’s tercer grado, or Grade 3 regime, convicts are allowed day release and spend only the nights of Monday through Thursday in prison.

The decision, which may still be appealed by the public prosecutor, affects former Catalan deputy premier Oriol Junqueras of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party, the former regional department chiefs Joaquim Forn, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa and Raül Romeva; former Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell; and the heads of two civil society associations, Jordi Cuixart of Òmnium Cultural and Jordi Sànchez of Asamblea Nacional Catalana (ANC).

On October 14, 2019, the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced these individuals to between eight and 13 years in prison after finding them guilty of sedition in connection with the unilateral breakaway attempt of October 2017.

In early July, the assessment boards of the prisons where they are serving their sentences approved their move to a more flexible incarceration regime. The assessment board is a technical body made up of prison directors, psychologists, educators, jurists and social workers.

But that decision had to be ratified by the Catalan government, which did so on Tuesday. The prison boards will now determine the date when the new regime takes effect. The separatist leaders are already being allowed out of prison for specific periods of time under article 100.2 of the Penitentiary Regulations, which enables inmates to go to work or care for dependents. Former deputy premier Junqueras was allowed out on March 3 to start teaching classes at Vic University in Manresa.

The public prosecutor’s office has announced that it will appeal the decision to grant Junqueras and the other separatist leaders Grade 3 status, and said that this appeal should put the new regime on hold. The Catalan government, however, said that the more flexible regime would be applied immediately, and reversed only if and when a court enters an adverse decision. The last word is in the hands of the court that handed down the original conviction, which in this case is the Spanish Supreme Court.

English version by Susana Urra.

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