First jailed democratic government in EU, says VP
Pere Aragonès claims imprisonment of independence leaders and shooting of Lluís Companys in 1940 were both for "political reasons"
October 15 is the anniversary of the death of Lluís Companys, the Catalan president who was executed by the Franco regime in 1940, in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).
Yet, this year's commemoration has special resonance after Catalan independence leaders were sentenced on Monday to jail terms of between nine and 13 years.
At Tuesday's ceremony to remember the 79th anniversary of Companys' execution by firing squad, vice president, Pere Aragonès, pointed out a parallel between the two cases.
The only democratically elected president in Europe to be executed has coincided, almost to the day, with the "only democratically elected government in the EU" to be imprisoned, Aragonès explained.
At Barcelona's Montjuïc cemetery, where Companys is buried, the vice president also said that another parallel between the cases is that they were both carried out for "political reasons."
"They couldn't destroy the ideas Companys defended"
The Catalan parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, also made reference to the parallel, saying that "they couldn't destroy the ideas that Companys defended, and nor will they now."
Torrent also called for the defense of "democracy, freedom and the people's will to decide their future," adding that "we do so on the day after an unjust and unjustifiable sentence."
Companys was also arrested for proclaiming the Catalan State within the "Spanish Federal Republic" on October 6, 1934, but was later restored to his post as president.
President during the Civil War, Companys was executed by firing squad on Montjuïc on October 15, 1940, after the Gestapo secret police had arrested him in France and handed him over to the Franco regime.
Since then, Companys has become a symbol of Catalan national resistance, and today his name can be seen on streets, squares, and avenues all over Catalonia.
Yet, not everyone was keen to link the fates of Companys and the jailed leaders, and this year was the first time representatives of the Catalan Socialist party chose not to attend the annual floral tribute.