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Independence referendum trial verdict: Who faces what?

Spain's Supreme Court announces verdict for political leaders and activists behind 2017 independence bid

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19 September 2019 03:26 PM

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ACN | Madrid

Oriol Junqueras sitting in the Supreme Court on the final day of the Catalan Trial (Supreme Court)

Oriol Junqueras

Former Catalan vice president, finance minister and ERC leader

Oriol Junqueras is the most senior political figure convicted for his role surrounding the 2017 referendum. Alongside former president Carles Puigdemont, he was one of the main independence leaders, but unlike Puigdemont, he remained in the country and was incarcerated on November 2, 2017.

While in prison he ran as ERC’s candidate for president in the December 21, 2017 Catalan election, MP in the April 28, 2019 Spanish general election – for which he was elected, took up his seat and was disqualified shortly thereafter–, and MEP in the May 26, 2019 European Parliament election. He was elected MEP, but was not able to take up his seat – the European Court of Justice is yet to rule on his parliamentary immunity.

Junqueras spent 711 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing.

Crime: sedition and misuse of public funds

Prison sentence: 13 years

Disqualification: 13 years

 

Jordi Turull, head of the Junts per Catalunya ticket for Lleida in the April 2019 Spanish election, at his first live election rally from prison via video link

Jordi Turull

Former presidency minister

As the presidency minister and cabinet spokesperson, Turull was one of the highest-ranking government officials at the time of the independence referendum. He entered prison on November 2, 2017, only to be released a month later on bail before being jailed once again on March 23, 2018, during a two-day parliament debate in which his bid for Catalan president was being discussed.

Elected MP for Junts per Catalunya in the December 2017 Catalan election, he was proposed by Puigdemont to be his successor when Spanish courts blocked him from taking the post from a distance. Back in prison again, Turull was suspended as MP and prevented from holding his ministerial post. Like Junqueras, he also won an MP seat in the April 2019 Spanish election, very briefly took up his seat in Congress, and was then disbarred.  

Turull spent 602 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing.

Crime: sedition and misuse of public funds

Prison sentence: 12 years

Disqualification: 12 years

 

Joaquim Forn

Former interior minister

As interior minister, Joaquim Forn was in charge of Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra police force when the independence referendum took place. Accused of not doing enough to stop the vote, Forn has denied the existence of any "political interference" with the Mossos.

Along with Junqueras, Forn is the only minister to remain behind bars consistently since November 2, 2017. Forn also ran for mayor of Barcelona as the JxCat candidate in the May 26, 2019 local election and was allowed to leave prison two days in June to register as one of the city councilors.

Forn spent 711 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing.

Crime: sedition

Prison sentence: 10.5 years

Disqualification: 10.5 years

 

Raül Romeva testifying in the Supreme Court on February 19, 2019

Raül Romeva

Former foreign action minister

After a decade of serving as a member of the European Parliament for the Greens-EFA group, Romeva returned to Catalan politics in 2015 to lead the pro-independence parties that at the time had formed a joint electoral list. He served as foreign action minister of Catalonia until Spain triggered Article 155 of the constitution suspending Catalan self-rule, following the declaration of independence in October 2017.

Romeva spent a month in jail, was released on bail, and was imprisoned again in March 2018. Elected MP for ERC in the December 2017 Catalan election, the Supreme Court suspended him in July 2018. He was also elected senator in Spain’s April 2019 election, but as happened with the jailed MPs, was suspended days after taking up his seat.

Romeva spent 602 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing.

Crime: sedition and misuse of public funds 

Prison sentence: 12 years

Disqualification: 12 years

 

A screenshot of Dolors Bassa testifying in the Spanish Supreme Court

Dolors Bassa

Former labor and social affairs minister

Dolors Bassa was the Catalan labor and social affairs minister when the October 1, 2017 independence referendum took place. She was released on bail after spending a month in prison from November to December 2017.

A member of ERC, she resigned from parliament before appearing before the Supreme Court in March 2018, but was imprisoned nonetheless.

Bassa spent 602 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing.

Crime: sedition and misuse of public funds

Prison sentence: 12 years

Disqualification: 12 years

 

Josep Rull

Former territory minister

A close ally of Puigdemont, Josep Rull has served as a member of the Catalan parliament for more than two decades. After spending one month in jail and being released on bail, he was imprisoned again last March.

Catalan president Quim Torra proposed that he take the post of territory minister again while in prison, but Spanish courts blocked his appointment and later suspended him as Catalan MP. Along with jailed party colleagues Turull and Sànchez, Rull was elected MP for JxCat in Spain’s April 2019 election, was allowed to leave prison to take up his seat and was then suspended.

Rull spent 602 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing.

Crime: sedition

Prison sentence: 10.5 years

Disqualification: 10.5 years

 

The former Catalan parliament speaker, Carme Forcadell, testifying in Spain's Supreme Court on February 26, 2019

Carme Forcadell

Former parliament speaker

Forcadell is one of the independence movement’s key players since it gained further momentum in 2012. During the early years, she was the leader of a large grassroots pro-independence organization, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and from 2015 was the speaker of the Catalan parliament.

The Spanish Constitutional Court sent her several warnings and the Spanish prosecutor filed criminal lawsuits against her while in office for facilitating parliamentary debates and votes on independence. Forcadell, however, has repeatedly stated that she was simply respecting freedom of speech and MPs’ rights. Forcadell spent a month in prison before being sent to prison again in March 2018, as were Bassa, Rull, Romeva, and Turull.

Forcadell spent 571 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing.

Crime: sedition

Prison sentence: 11.5 years

Disqualification: 11.5 years

 

Jordi Sánchez during a political rally ahead of the 2017 independence referendum in Vic (by Núria Julià)

Jordi Sànchez

Former ANC grassroots leader

Sànchez took over the ANC’s leadership in 2015 when Forcadell formally entered politics. He led a protest outside the Catalan economy department on September 20, 2017, as a response to Spanish police raids against the referendum organization. No-one was injured, but the protest was considered a “tumultuous” one, for which Sànchez was charged with sedition, and then rebellion. The grassroots leader maintains that all pro-independence demonstrations over that period were peaceful.

Sànchez, who has been in prison since October 16, 2017, stepped down as ANC leader and was elected as Catalan MP for Puigdemont’s party. Unsuccessful attempts were made to allow him to be sworn in as Catalan president following the December 2017 election, and he was also suspended as MP. Like Turull and Rull, Sànchez was elected MP for JxCat in the April 2019 Spanish vote, was allowed to take up his seat and was then suspended days later.

Sànchez spent 728 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing.

Crime: sedition

Prison sentence: 9 years

Disqualification: 9 years

 

Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Cultural, appears on screen in a public viewing of the defendants closing remarks during the Catalan Trial (by Bernat Vilaró)

Jordi Cuixart

Òmnium Cultural grassroots leader

Jordi Cuixart is the only jailed leader who has never held a public political post. During the 2017 referendum, he was president of Òmnium Cultural, another large pro-independence organization, and faced the same charges as Sànchez. Both were the first to be sent to precautionary jail in October 2017.

Unlike Sànchez, however, he did not make the move to institutional politics in the December 2017 Catalan election and remained at the head of Òmnium. This organization has dramatically increased its membership to 170,000.

Cuixart spent 728 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing.

Crime: sedition

Prison sentence: 9 years

Disqualification: 9 years

 

Meritxell Borràs

Former governance minister

Catalonia’s governance minister at the time of the independence referendum, Meritxell Borràs decided to leave politics after spending 33 days in prison, thereby ending a career that spanned more than 20 years. Summoned to court in March 2018, she was allowed to walk free while most of her colleagues were incarcerated once again.

Crime: disobedience

Prison sentence: none

Disqualification: 20 months

Fine: €60,000

 

Carles Mundó

Former justice minister

Like Borràs, Carles Mundó left politics after spending 33 days in jail in late 2017 for his role in the independence bid. He was the Catalan justice minister at the time of the referendum.

Crime: disobedience

Prison sentence: none

Disqualification: 20 months

Fine: €60,000

 

Former business minister Santi Vila (middle) with former officials Meritxell Borràs and Carles Mundó in Spain's Supreme Court

Santi Vila

Former business minister

Santi Vila was skeptical of promoting a unilateral push for independence during his time as a member of Puigdemont’s cabinet. He was part of the government when the referendum was called, and the day before independence was declared, he stepped down from his post and left politics altogether soon afterward having spent a night in prison. Santi Vila has said that his department spent no money on referendum logistics.

Crime: disobedience

Prison sentence: none

Disqualification: 20 months

Fine: €60,000

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  • Jailed Catalan leaders in Supreme Court on February 12, 2019 (EFE Pool)

  • Jailed Catalan leaders in Supreme Court on February 12, 2019 (EFE Pool)

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