'Injustice, vengeance': pro-referendum camp blast the revoking of jailed leaders’ privileges

Officials imprisoned for 2017 referendum "not surprised" at Supreme Court decision

The front of the Lledoners prison (by Blanca Blay)
The front of the Lledoners prison (by Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 4, 2020 01:53 PM

The pro-independence parties and entities, as well as Catalunya en Comú – Podem, also in favour of a referendum in Catalonia, blasted the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the privileges of the nine jailed leaders for the 2017 independence push. 

The imprisoned Catalan politicians and activists were denied regular daytime and weekend leaves on Friday, which ignited outrage. 

Jailed leaders: punishment, vengeance, no surprise

In several Twitter posts, the individuals serving between 9 and 13 years behind bars said they were "not surprised" and that it was "to be expected."

"The punishment, the state's vengeance and the application of the enemy's penitentiary law leaves no room for surprises," said Jordi Turull. 

"The Supreme Court orders vengeance again," tweeted Oriol Junqueras. 

"As always, we have learned that we have to go to prison through the media. This lack of respect to us and our families is a shame," pointed out Carme Forcadell, one of the two leaders whose privileges had not been provisionally suspended pending the Supreme Court's decision. 

"Today more than ever: amnesty and self-determination," said jailed activist Jordi Cuixart. "We are not a visualization of any defeat." 

As for pro-referendum political parties and their main representatives, they also expressed the same idea. 

Interim president Pere Aragonès said the Supreme Court is hampering a democratic solution with their "political vengeance" and asked for an amnesty for those involved in the independence push procedure. 

His party, ERC, was key for Spain's 2021 budget approval on Thursday. 

"It is hard to say anything after we allowed the approval of the budget for the state who imprisons and suppresses us," said Junts per Catalunya's disqualified president Quim Torra, implicitly criticizing ERC. 

Parliament speaker Roger Torrent also sees the decision as "injustice, vengeance and arbitrariness", while former Catalan head of government, Carles Puigdemont, has called it "vengeance" and "punishment." 

While anti-austerity Catalunya en Comú – Podem (Catalonia's allies of Podemos) also described the decision as "injustice" and says that pardons and a reform of the sedition crime are the way to reduce their time in prison.

Spain's Socialist-led executive – also including Podemos – is considering the several petitions of pardon of various personalities and entities, and is reviewing the crime of sedition in the criminal code

Yet, for the far-left CUP, the Supreme Court's decision is "the grim reality," opposed to "rumors" of pardons and criminal code reforms.  

Amnesty International: injustice to activists

Both mainstream Catalan pro-independence civic groups, ANC and Òmnium, denounced the decision, and the former organized 11 in-car marches towards the prisons where Carme Forcadell and former work minister Dolors Bassa serve their sentences.

Also Amnesty International criticized the Supreme Court, specifically referring to the two only activists in jail not involved in politics at the time, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart.  

For the NGO, the judges' ruling "perpetuates the situation of injustice against both of them."

Amnesty has been asking for their release ever since they were put behind bars in October 2017 and has also urged Spain's congress to reform the crime of sedition.

However, not all parties criticized the decision, as demonstrated by the unionist People’s Party (PP) and Ciutadans (Cs).

“We respect the judicial decisions” announced PP’s president Pablo Casado in a speech in Roses, a northern municipality of Catalonia, only hours following the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision. He also urged “that other parties do the same.”

Further to this, he stated that Spain should keep “judicial independence and separation of power.” in a rebuttal to parties who have denounced the decision.

Inés Arrimadas, the leader of Cs accused the government of being more “preoccupied” by the jailed independence leaders than those self-employed in Catalonia, who she described as “bankrupting” themselves.