Spain's Constitutional Court rejects first appeal against sentencing of pro-independence leaders
Judges argue Supreme Court is competent authority to try 2017 referendum organizers
Spain's Constitutional Court rejected former Catalan governance minister Meritxell Borràs' appeal against the Supreme Court's sentencing of the independence referendum organizers on Wednesday—the first of its kind regarding the October 2019 ruling.
The judges ruled on the matter unanimously, arguing that the Supreme Court did indeed have the authority to try Catalonia's pro-independence leaders as they had political immunity at the time and because some of the events in question took place abroad.
Nine politicians and activists were sentenced to up to 13 years behind bars for the 2017 push to split with Spain, while another three, including Borràs, were barred from office for disobedience and given €60,000-fines.
The ruling deems that the authority of the Supreme Court to try the independence leaders has an "unquestionable legal basis."
Borràs' complaint centred around the argument that the independence leaders should be tried in a court where the relevant events took place. The former minister, therefore, believes the Catalan Trial should have taken place in the High Court of Catalonia (TSJC).
However, the Constitutional Court has agreed with the decision not to refer the case to the TSJC because the accused had political immunity as MPs, and for the fact that some of the relevant events took place overseas, specifically, the transfers for international observers which were sent from the Catalan government's office in Brussels.
Prosecutor requests suspension of leave
Earlier this week, Spain's public prosecutor requested that the jailed independence leaders have their regular prison leaves revoked.
The leaders of the 2017 push to separate from Spain were granted the low category status as inmates only two weeks ago, coinciding with the first day of campaigning for the Catalan election, and they were allowed to take part in political rallies. A day after the election was held on February 14, prosecutors requested their privileges be removed.
Should Spain’s Supreme Court accept the prosecutor’s request, it would be the second time in less than three months that the nine leaders have been stripped of their prison privileges shortly after receiving them.