Court revokes privileges for jailed pro-independence leaders Forcadell and Bassa

Both politicians lose regular day leaves and will have to enter prison again as the other seven officials behind bars have

Jailed Catalan leaders Dolors Bassa (left) and Carme Forcadell (Photos by Marina López and Gerard Artigas)
Jailed Catalan leaders Dolors Bassa (left) and Carme Forcadell (Photos by Marina López and Gerard Artigas) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 6, 2021 11:28 AM

A Catalan penitentiary court has revoked the privileges for the two female pro-independence leaders, former parliament speaker Carme Forcadell and former work minister Dolors Bassa.

This means they lose their current 'low status' category status, enabling them to be home all week except for four nights from Monday to Thursday.

They will now spend most of their time behind bars, with permits of up to 36 days a year, the same categorization as the other seven 2017 referendum leaders imprisoned.

Forcadell is expected to enter the Wad-Ras penitentiary centre in Barcelona again on Tuesday evening, while Bassa will do so in the Puig de les Basses prison in Figueres – neither of them will be able to leave the institutions from Wednesday onward.

They had both been waiting for a final court decision, which could be now appealed before Spain's Supreme Court.

Their day-leave permits were approved by the Catalan government – the authority in charge of managing prisons in the country – on January 30, and Spain's public prosecutor appealed against them soon afterwards, which was provisionally dismissed on February 23.

Yet, in the end, the same magistrate accepted the prosecutor's request to revoke such privileges, as another judge did with the seven male imprisoned leaders locked in Lledoners jail.

The Supreme Court, the institution that would have a final say on the case if the nine officials appealed, already sided against allowing day-leave permits for any of them in December 2020 – and the top judges' stance is the reason given now to ban the day leaves again.

Second attempt to enjoy day-leaves

They had been granted this semi-free status in July by the Catalan government, the administration in charge of penitentiary centres in Catalonia.

Soon afterwards, Spain's public prosecutor appealed the decision, arguing it was creating "a sense of impunity."

While the courts were deliberating on the matter – with the ultimate decision made by the Supreme Court on Friday –, a Catalan penitentiary court decided to automatically suspend the 'low category' status for the seven male imprisoned officials, while another one decided to keep the privileges for the two female ones, Forcadell and Bassa.

Yet, in the end, the Supreme Court ruled against them all.

July 2021: potential third attempt for privileges

Categorization of inmates are reviewed every six months in Catalonia, so pending a potential decision of Spain's top court upholding the revocation, they could be granted the day leaves again in July this year, something which could be annulled again.

"Not justice, but revenge"

Government spokesperson Meritxell Budó was visibly upset by the judge's decision to revoke the low category statuses of the "political prisoners." 

"It is clear that it is not justice, but revenge, and that we must continue to fight for this not to be the case," she said, adding that after the rest of the pro-independence prisoners had been given the same sentence, it was to be expected that the same would happen to Bassa and Forcadell.

Regardless, Budó concluded that despite the awaited news, she said the decision does not cause “less outrage.”