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Catalan government demands explanation for leaked video of politicians jailed in Madrid

Justice Minister Ester Capella says images “undermine right to intimacy”; Spanish government opens investigation

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07 June 2018 11:54 AM

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ACN | Barcelona

The Catalan government will demand explanations from Spain’s Ministry of Home Affairs over a leaked video of pro-independence politicians jailed in Madrid, said Catalan justice minister Ester Capella in an interview on Thursday.

In the video, published by the Catalan newspaper ‘ARA’, former ministers Oriol Junqueras, Raül Romeva and Joaquim Forn appear carrying out daily tasks, such as playing tennis, washing windows, sweeping the floor, or lecturing other inmates on Greek philosophers.

Capella said the footage “undermines their right to intimacy and one’s own image,” and she urged Spain to take measures “so that this does not happen again.” The minister also said she was not aware of whether the prisoners’ families had been asked for permission.

  • “We believe that the informative value [of these images] is obvious and therefore they should be published”

    Esther Vera · ARA Editor-in-chief

However, ‘ARA’ reported that the families were informed beforehand. “We believe that the informative value [of these images] is obvious and therefore they should be published,” said editor-in-chief, Esther Vera, who referred to the jailed leaders as “political prisoners.” “Showing reality helps denounce injustice that should never go overlooked,” she added.

The publishing of the images has sparked controversy. “Now, they’re taking away the very few rights they still have: intimacy and their own image,” said Andreu Van den Eynde, the lawyer for Junqueras and Romeva. “Such cruelty is unacceptable,” he added

Forns’ lawyer, Jaume Alonso Cuevillas, pointed out that prisoners are not allowed mobile phones. Visitors and lawyers are also asked to leave their phones outside. Therefore, he said, the video must have been recorded “by someone inside.”

Diana Ribas, Romeva’s wife, criticized the fact that the prison system allowed these images to be taken “illegally,” while prisoners are not allowed to request their transfer to prisons closer to home.

“Neither they nor their families deserve it. It’s disgraceful!” said Marta Rovira, the secretary general of Esquerra Republicana, the political party of Junqueras and Romeva. “How is it that such a recording can be made inside a prison? And this does not exonerate the newspaper,” she added.

The leader of the People’s Party (PP) in Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, said he was “shocked” by the images. He also dismissed the calls for prisoners to be transferred to Catalonia. “Let’s be real: Madrid is an hour away by plane, or five hours away by car. [If they were in Catalonia] it would be more practical, but it’s not a matter of human rights, because this is not a prison in Vietnam or a third world country.”

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  • Screenshot of a leaked video of former home affairs minister Joaquim Forn in jail (published by Ara newspaper)

  • Screenshot of a leaked video of former home affairs minister Joaquim Forn in jail (published by Ara newspaper)