Jailed leaders transferred to Madrid prisons for trial
President Torra supports them before leaving Catalonia as dozens rally outside penitentiaries
The nine jailed pro-independence leaders were transferred from Catalan prisons to penitentiaries in the Madrid region on Friday, in preparation for their trial due to start on February 12.
They left the prisons in Catalonia where they have been held in custody for the last seven months in the early morning and got to Spain's capital in late afternoon.
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.
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.
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.