Spanish court denies freedom to jailed Catalan leaders
Magistrates say pro-independence leaders pose a flight risk
Spain’s Supreme Court has rejected the latest petition for freedom from Catalan leaders, jailed for their role in the independence bid—the first time such a decision is made by the magistrates who will judge them, the next step following the investigation phase.
In total, there are nine pro-independence leaders preemptively imprisoned, including former ministers, the former parliament speaker, and two grassroots activists. They all face criminal charges of rebellion for calling a referendum and declaring independence, despite Spain’s opposition.
The magistrates followed a similar criteria to the one laid out by judge Pablo Llarena during the investigation stage he was presiding over: jailed leaders should not leave prison due to the “gravity of the offenses for which they were indicted.”
Moreover, with the trial due to start in the upcoming months, the Supreme Court believes that the imprisoned leaders pose a flight risk.
While some former government members traveled to other European countries to avoid prosecution, including former president Carles Puigdemont, those who stayed in Catalonia were sent to prison.
A German court rejected extraditing Puigdemont to Spain for the crime of rebellion, a decision that prompted the Supreme Court to give up all European Arrest Warrants against pro-independence politicians abroad.
Jailed Catalan leaders requested to be released following Germany’s decision, as they all were being held behind bars for the very same offense that the court of Schleswig-Holstein rejected for Puigdemont—yet, Spanish magistrates stressed that the criteria of judges in a different country did not have any effect in the case.
Meanwhile, the defense for the pro-independence leaders stated this demonstrated the weakness of the case. "The crime of rebellion does not exist, they made it up, and manipulated events," said the attorney for grassroots pro-independence leader Jordi Cuixart, Marina Roig.
Cuixart entered prison last October along with Jordi Sánchez, the then-leader of a major pro-independence grassroots organization.
Former vice president and leader of Esquerra (ERC) party Oriol Junqueras, as well as former minister Joaquim Forn, have been held behind bars since November 2.
Former ministers Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Raül Romeva and Jordi Turull, as well as former speaker Carme Forcadell, entered prison last March after spending a month in jail last November.