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No prison yard for 20 days: jailed Catalan leader to be punished for non-authorized interview

Vice president Oriol Junqueras, in jail since Nov 2, was banned from effectively participating in the past election campaign

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02 February 2018 12:24 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

A prison in Madrid is to punish Oriol Junqueras, the Catalan vice president jailed since November 2, with up to 20 days without being able to use the penitentiary’s yard for giving a non-authorized radio interview in December.

Junqueras was the candidate for president in the past election for Esquerra Republicana (ERC), one of the main pro-independence parties in Catalonia. He asked to take part in the election campaign from prison, but his request was denied.

The vice president faces criminal charges for his role in Catalonia’s push to secede from Spain, which concluded with a declaration of independence in October. Junqueras and all government members were dismissed by Spanish president Mariano Rajoy, and some were subsequently sent to jail.

In the past election, Junqueras was the only party leader in prison. Carles Puigdemont, the deposed Catalan president and Junqueras’ main rival within the pro-independence bloc, managed to run his campaign from Belgium. Although ERC started the campaign as the polls’ favorite, Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia ticket outperformed them and became the most voted pro-independence party.

According to prison officials, Junqueras used a telephone call to a friend to conduct a brief interview that was broadcast on the RAC1 radio station on December 19. Asked about the post-electoral discussions, he said that he’s in favor of “consensus” and a “united” government.

After the interview was broadcasted, the Spanish government opened official inquiries into Junqueras as well as Jordi Sànchez, a grassroots leader also in prison who joined Puigemont's candidacy as number two. Sànchez also used a telephone call to record a message that was later played in party rallies.

The case of jailed leaders goes international

On Thursday, three of the imprisoned Catalan leaders—including Junqueras and Sànchezbrought their cases to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentionin an attempt to raise international awareness of the prosecution of pro-independence politicians by the Spanish justice.

28 people under investigation

There are currently four Catalan leaders behind bars. In total, 28 key figures of the Catalan independence movement are under investigation by the Spanish Supreme Court, 12 of whom have been held in custody at some point since the independence referendum was held last October.

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  • Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras (by ACN)