Parliament speakers past and present condemn leaders' convictions
Four Catalan chamber heads, spanning 1999 till today, describe jailing of Carme Forcadell as "attack on freedom of expression"
"Unjust and unjustifiable " was how Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent described the conviction of pro-independence leaders by the Supreme Court on Monday.
Torrent expressed support for the jailed leaders, describing the day of the verdict as "one of the darkest days" since the parliament was restored at the end of the Franco regime.
Torrent appeared with former parliament speakers, such as Joan Rigol, who criticized the decision to jail the speaker during the 2017 independence bid, Carme Forcadell.
"Today the speaker of a democratic parliament was sentenced to 11 and a half years in prison for allowing freedom of expression and not turning the bureau into a censor," he said.
Rigol, who was speaker from 1999 to 2003, called Forcadell's jailing an attack on "the essence of parliamentarism," and why "so many in the world have called for her release."
"Only politics can solve a political problem"
Ernest Benach, who took over from Rigol and served as speaker until 2010, insisted that "only with politics can we solve a political problem."
The former speaker also said the leaders' convictions made the chance of political dialogue less likely and predicted they would "cause an emotional rupture with the state."
Benach also said that the only violence during the October 1 2017 referendum came from "Spanish police hitting peaceful citizens who wanted to vote freely."
"There are no grounds for justifying the conviction," he said, adding that "we want a country in which it's not a crime to provide ballot boxes."
Nuria de Gispert (speaker from 2010 to 2015) also condemned Forcadell's conviction, calling it a "direct attack on the right to freedom of expression and MPs rights."
She also mentioned activist leaders, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, saying their convictions were an attack "on the right of the freedom to protest."