Public prosecutor appeals two Catalan leaders’ prison leave permits in Spain’s Supreme Court

Legal challenge aims to overrule lower court’s decision to provisionally keep prison privileges for pro-independence leaders

Jailed Catalan leaders Dolors Bassa (right), Carme Forcadell (center), and Raül Romeva (by Pere Francesch)
Jailed Catalan leaders Dolors Bassa (right), Carme Forcadell (center), and Raül Romeva (by Pere Francesch) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 1, 2021 10:15 AM

Spain’s public prosecutor has taken to the Supreme Court a lower court’s decision to provisionally keep prison privileges for two of Catalonia’s jailed pro-independence leaders.

The prosecutor believes that politicians Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa should be immediately stripped of the ‘low status’ category as inmates, allowing for regular day and weekend leaves while serving a sentence for sedition.

Just like Forcadell and Bassa, another seven leading politicians and activists in Catalonia were convicted for organizing an unauthorized referendum and trying to separate from Spain in the fall of 2017. Their prison sentences range from 9 to 13 years.

The nine leaders regained the 'low' prison category in late January, about two months after the Supreme Court stripped them of such privileges for the first time.

Appeals against the current prison status of other pro-independence leaders could follow in the coming hours, as the public prosecutor has already challenged their privileges in a lower court.

In the fall of 2017, Forcadell was serving as the spoke of the Catalan parliament, where lawmakers voted a declaration of independence that was later suspended by the Spanish government.

Spain's then conservative president also sacked the Catalan government, where Bassa was serving as labor minister, with most of its members ending up either in prison or exiled in other European countries.

Hitting the Catalan election campaign trail

Forcadell and Bassa were allowed to hit the campaign trail in Catalonia's recent parliamentary election and support Esquerra Republicana, the most voted pro-independence party on the February 14 vote.

Parties in favor of an independent Catalan republic widened their majority of seats, all but ensuring they can remain in power, and surpassed 50% of all votes cast for the first time.

Pardons up in the air

Over the past decade, the Catalan independent push has spurred Spain's worst political crisis in decades. Rather than resolving it, the imprisonment of Forcadell, Bassa, and their colleagues increased tensions even further.

The Spanish government, now led by the Socialists and partly reliant on pro-independence lawmakers in Congress, is considering presidential pardons for the jailed leaders, which would effectively set them free.

Before making a final decision, Spain's president Pedro Sánchez has asked the Supreme Court for a non-binding report on the matter.

The Supreme Court is now waiting for the Court of Auditors to clarify if pro-independence leaders have paid 4.1 million euros, making up for the estimated cost of the 2017 referendum.