Jailed leaders being transferred to Madrid prisons for trial

President Torra supports them before leaving Catalonia as dozens rally outside penitentiaries

Dozens of people support former Catalan parliament speaker, Carme Forcadell, while being moved from her prison (by Núria Torres)
Dozens of people support former Catalan parliament speaker, Carme Forcadell, while being moved from her prison (by Núria Torres) / ACN

ACN | Sant Esteve Sesrovires

February 1, 2019 02:00 PM

The nine jailed pro-independence leaders left the prisons in Catalonia where they have been held in custody for the last seven months on Friday morning.

They started their journey for Madrid region penitentiaries in preparation for their trial, which will be held in the Spanish capital.

The jailed leaders were being held in three Catalan prisons, and around 6am the Catalan police moved them all to one, Brians II, where the Spanish Guardia Civil police took over their escort, to transfer them all in one vehicle to two Madrid prisons. They left for Madrid around 9:30am.

At Brians II several members of the Catalan government led by the president, Quim Torra, were waiting for them from the early morning to support them before they left Catalonia for the trial, whose start date is still unknown.  

Dozens of people rallied outside the prisons to support the leaders, and some unsuccessfully tried to cut the roads in order to prevent them being moved.

Pro-independence reaction

The spokespeople of the main pro-independence parties, to whom the majority of the prisoners belong, both commented on the transfer.

JxCat party spokesman, Albert Batet, said the jailed leaders were going to Madrid to defend the Catalan cause and condemn the State. Batet also said the prisoners were leaving with the support of thousands of Catalans: "They are being tried for the October 1 referendum, but so are all those who went to vote; they are trying democracy," he said.

As for the ERC party, its spokeswoman, Marta Vilalta, said that while the leaders leave for Madrid in handcuffs, they will return to Catalonia "full of dignity." Vilalta also echoed Batet's words, saying the prisoners are being tried "for who they are, for what they think and represent."

Unionist Ciutadans rejects potential pardon for leaders

The leader of Ciutadans party, Albert Rivera, also commented the events shortly after the leaders left for Madrid.

"Those who protest for having to be incarcerated or having to attend a trial should have thought twice before making a coup d'état and breaking the Catalan society," he said.

Rivera also rejected the possibility of pardoning the leaders if they get a condemnatory sentence. If the Spanish government does so, he believes the Socialist party will "disappear." Rivera has also called "coward" the former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, for being in Brussels instead of attending the trial.