Supreme Court rejects urgent unionist plea to send independence leaders back to jail
Magistrates will not put pardons immediately on hold as requested, but final decision on legal challenges is still pending
Spain’s Supreme Court has rejected a legal plea to "urgently" send Catalan independence leaders back to prison and suspend the pardons granted by the Spanish government last week.
While a final decision on the matter is still pending, the provisional ruling signals that magistrates in the court that originally convicted the nine leaders of sedition for their role in the 2017 referendum push don’t see grounds for reversing the pardons without first hearing both parts.
The nine politicians and activists spent around 3.5 years behind bars, including a lengthy pre-trial detention. They were found guilty of sedition for leading Catalonia’s referendum push and attempt to declare independence from Spain in the fall of 2017, and sentenced to prison for up to 13 years.
The pardons were greenlighted by the Spanish government on June 22, with the Socialist president Pedro Sánchez defending the "public utility" of the measure in the face of heated criticism from opposition right-wing unionist parties.
"These pardons directly benefit nine people, but the Spanish government is thinking of the hundreds of thousands of Catalans who have sympathy for those in prison," he said in a televised address on Tuesday.