MEPs visit pro-independence leaders in prison
"There is still time for these absurd and incomprehensible rebellion charges to be dropped," says EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform leader Ivo Vajgl
A group of 13 MEPs from several EU member states visited pro-independence leaders in jail on Friday.
This is the first visit from members of the European Parliament to the jailed Catalan politicians, after not having been authorized by Spanish authorities to see them for months.
Last July, the nine officials were transferred to Catalan penitentiary centers, so the Catalan administration authorized the visits.
The 13 MEPs are members of the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform. The group wants to persuade the EU to intervene in the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain.
Speaking to the press from the Lledoners prison, where the male politicians are being held, the group's president, Ivo Vajgl, urged Spain to drop the charges against them.
"There is still time for these absurd and incomprehensible rebellion charges to be dropped," he said.
"Spain could still safeguard a piece of its honor if this happens," Vajgl added. According to him, the Catalan politicians are "only in prison for revenge."
Socialist MEP Ana Gomes asked the Spanish government to make the "release of the political prisoners a priority" in order for "dialogue and reconciliation to develop."
"On October 1 some of us were here, as MEPs. The label of rebellion is not only illegal, but the wrong people are in jail. We witnessed the violence by the Spanish state, by the Guardia Civil," said Irish MEP Martina Anderson.
The label of rebellion is not only illegal, but the wrong people are in jail. We witnessed the violence by the Spanish state, by the Guardia Civil"
Martina Anderson · Irish MP
The officials visiting the prisoners include platform president former Slovenian foreign minister Ivo Vajgl, the Portuguese Socialist MEP Ana Gomes, Irish MEPs Martina Anderson and Lynn Boylan, the Flemish MEP Mark Demesmaeker, and the French MEP Marie-Pierre Vieu. These are members of all the European Parliament groups except for the People's Party and the far right.
Catalan pro-independence MEPs Ramon Tremosa, Jordi Solé and Josep Maria Terricabras also joined the visit, along with Basque MEPs Izaskun Bilbao and Josu Juaristi, and Galician MEPs Ana Miranda and Lidia Senra.