Jailed minister’s wife claims incarcerated leaders are ‘hostages’
“Maybe they are being held until there is no one left who thinks like them,” she says in an interview with the Catalan News Agency
The jailed pro-independence leaders are not normal prisoners, but “hostages.” That is according to Laura Masvidal, the wife of former MP Joaquim Forn. In an interview with the Catalan News Agency (ACN), Masvidal insisted that “they have not done anything wrong and none of the judge’s rulings have any legal standing.” Her husband’s appeal for release was turned down on Friday despite him giving up his post as an MP in the Catalan Parliament. “Maybe they are being held as hostages until there is no one left out there who thinks like them,” she said.
Masvidal also criticized the fact that they are being held in custody in prisons in the Madrid region, around 650 km away from their homes. “It is part of the punishment, they are fine with the families suffering this,” she said, at the same time branding the Spanish prison system “anachronistic.” According to Masvidal, inmates have to ask for authorization by writing on tracing paper, while the policy for receiving packages and contact with relatives is “strict.”
Legal proceedings in European courts
During the interview, Masvidal admitted that little more can be done to get them released before their trials start in Spain. That is why the defenses of the jailed leaders want to begin legal proceedings in the European courts. In fact, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, who are also behind bars, took their cases to the United Nations last week. Their defense is being aided by British lawyer, Ben Emmerson, who said that their preemptive imprisonment is a “classic case of arbitrary political detention.”
"[Keeping jailed leaders in prisons 650km far from home] is part of the punishment, they are fine with the families suffering this"
Laura Masvidal · Jailed Catalan minister Joaquim Forn's wife
Masvidal also pointed out that one of the most negative consequences of the imprisonments for the families is financial, with legal expenses and the 650 km weekly trips to prison uppermost among them. Her husband, along with Oriol Junqueras and a dozen other officials, were removed from their ministerial posts by the Spanish government in late October 2017. They have no right to unemployment benefit and only get a “small former minister’s pay,” she said.
Association for the Defense of Civil Rights
In order to “channel the solidarity” of Catalan citizens making donations, Masvidal and other relatives of officials in prison, and those freed on bail or in Brussels, have established the Association for the Defense of Civil Rights (ACDC in Catalan). This initiative aims to raise awareness of the situation, denouncing the “violation” of fundamental rights in this case and distributing the money collected to the families involved.