Spanish president says it is 'reasonable' to transfer jailed leaders to Catalan prisons
Pedro Sánchez expects to meet Catalan president Quim Torra at beginning of July
The Spanish president Pedro Sánchez said on Monday that it is "reasonable" to transfer jailed Catalan leaders to prisons closer to their families. Nine Catalan politicians and activists are currently in pre-trial jail in the Madrid region. "Once the judicial investigation is over, it will be reasonable to transfer the prisoners to Catalonia," he said during an interview at Spain's TVE.
Their families, pro-independence groups but also the Catalan government or the Barcelona city council have repeatedly asked for the jailed leaders to be released, as they consider them political prisoners. But, at the very least, they urged the Spanish government to grant them a transfer to jails closer to home. Sánchez admitted that by transferring Catalan jailed leaders, they would be "closer to their families and their lawyers" so they will also have better chances to "prepare their defense."
The trial against pro-independence politicians is expected to start next autumn. The leaders of the movement are facing charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds, which can carry up to 30 years behind bars. They have always argued that the situation in Catalonia should be dealt with political negotiations and not in the court rooms. Seven other politicians, including former president Carles Puigdemont, are currently fighting extradition abroad. The Belgian justice rejected extraditing three of them, while cases are still pending in Germany and Scotland. Switzerland also said that, as a general norm, it doesn't extradite people seek for "political crimes."
Meeting in July
"I hope we can open a new chapter in Catalonia," said Pedro Sánchez, softening the tone in comparison to his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy. The Socialist leader said that he expects to meet Catalan president Quim Torra in Madrid "at the beginning of July". However, both leaders will also probably meet this week at the inauguration of the Mediterranean Games, in Tarragona, during an event that the Spanish King will also attend.