Jailed leaders still searching for a way to shorten sentence one year after verdict
Ups and downs for pro-independence activists and politicians, who could benefit from pardons or criminal code reform in near future
October 29, 2030: on this day, the last of the nine Catalan jailed leaders is set to end his conviction for having organized an independence referendum in 2017.
Oriol Junqueras was sentenced to 13 years behind bars on sedition charges exactly one year ago, on October 14, 2019 – he had already served two years in provisional detention.
Eight other former ministers and leading activists in 2017 were also convicted to around a decade in prison on sedition charges, but all nine are searching for a way to shorten their punishments.
They are simultaneously waiting and working for that aim.
How? Judicially and politically.
Road to Strasbourg court
Given that this path is expected to be extremely long –up to five years until a potential favorable ruling, say commentators – they are trying to take a shortcut through politics.
Amnesty v pardoning
The pro-independence camp has found consensus in demanding an amnesty for all those involved in the referendum case, both those imprisoned and those in exile.
They put forward this petition in the talks between the Catalan and Spanish governments in February, with no affirmative response.
The Spanish congress would have to pass an amnesty law, something unlikely – this only happened after the Franco dictatorship in 1977, when Spain was transitioning to a democracy.
A more realistic option might be a pardoning – this is decided exclusively by the Spanish government, which is officially "considering" pardon requests for all nine, made by members of the civil society.
Most officials behind bars have rejected this option, on the grounds that this would mean acknowledging they committed a crime – yet, they would not be able to stay in jail if they were pardoned.