Catalan leaders in jail are ‘political prisoners’ says ex-prosecutor

“The pro-independence movement is perfectly legal,” says José Maria Mena

Protesters calling for release of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez (by ACN)
Protesters calling for release of Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 19, 2018 07:30 PM

The former chief prosecutor of Catalonia, José Maria Mena, has stated that the jailed Catalan leaders are “political prisoners.”

In an interview with the public Catalan TV station TV3, Mena gave his opinion on the situation of the deposed vice-president Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, and the grassroots activists Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez.

“They are political prisoners because their behaviour has been purely political,” he asserted, adding that the pro-independence movement is “perfectly legal” and shouldn’t be persecuted.

Regarding the accusations of the jailed leaders inciting violence, he said that he was “puzzled.”

“To accuse someone of violence, one must prove they have organized violence,” Mena said. “Pacifism is in the DNA of the organizers. Nobody wanted violence, even if there were particular incidents,” he added.

Currently, there are four pro-independence leaders incarcerated in Madrid: the Catalan vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, the Catalan home affairs minister, Joaquim Forn, and two civic leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. Forn, Sànchez and Cuixart appeared before the Spanish Supreme Court on January 11. They were summoned after asking to be released. They gave up on a unilateral means to achieve independence in court, according to judicial sources.

In prison since October

Sànchez has been in prison since October 16 for his role in Catalonia’s push for independence. That day, the two leaders of the two pro-independence civic organizations, Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, arrived at the Soto del Real prison in Madrid around 11pm. Held without bail, they are under investigation for sedition, after being accused of “seditiously” mobilizing people on September 20 and 21 and asking citizens to protest in front of polling stations on October 1.

Sànchez became one of the most prominent figures of the pro-independence movement, in his role as the president of the grassroots organization ANC. Once in prison, he resigned as president of the organization in order to run in the December 21 election for Puigdemont’s candidacy, Junts per Catalunya.