60 days since pro-independence grassroots leaders were jailed
Catalan administration workers protest to demand their release and the end of Madrid’s takeover of Catalonia
On October 16, the two leaders of the two pro-independence civic organizations, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, arrived at the Soto del Real prison in Madrid around 11pm. They were imprisoned on October 16 for their role in the demonstrations that took place in Barcelona in the run-up to the independence referendum.
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. They face charges of sedition, among others, that carry sentences of up to 15 years in jail.
60 days later, Sànchez and Cuixart are still in prison awaiting trial. According to Spanish law, they could spend at least two years in preventive detention.
Catalan administration workers demand their release
Catalan administration workers protested against the imprisonment of the Catalan officials Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn, as well as of the two civil society leaders and Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. They also demanded the end of Madrid’s takeover of Catalonia.
They also sang Christmas carols and the Catalan anthem, 'Els Segadors', and showed banners reading ‘No to 155’ and ‘Freedom to political prisoners’.
The Catalan Foreign Affairs minister, Raül Romeva, deposed after the enforcement of Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, joined the gathering. Romeva, as well as other Catalan officials, was in preventive detention for 32 days.
Catalan leaders summoned for January 11
The Spanish Supreme Court summoned the deposed Catalan Home Affairs minister, Joaquim Forn, along with the two civil leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. The deposed Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras, is the only official to have not been called. The judge summoned them some weeks after December 21, making it very likely that they will remain in prison until after the election.
Judge denies Sànchez to take part in campaign
The Supreme Court judge denied pro-independence jailed leader, Jordi Sànchez, permission to take part in the December 21 campaign. Sànchez is the number 2 candidate for Puigdemont’s candidacy, Together for Catalonia. Before agreeing to be part of the candidacy, he was the president of one of the main pro-independence organizations in Catalonia, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). From prison, he stepped down as ANC president.
Sánchez’s lawyers presented an allegation to the Spanish Constitutional Court that claimed that that his imprisonment “undermines several fundamental rights,” and inasmuch demanded to be released. The lawyers also argued that he cannot participate in the electoral campaign on “equal terms” as the other candidates.
Accused of “seditiously" mobilizing people
The judge stated that Sànchez and Cuixart "seditiously" mobilized people on September 20 and 21, when fourteen high-ranking officials of the Catalan government were arrested and thousands had gathered peacefully in the streets to protest the arrests.
During that same day, the Spanish Guardia civil police also carried out raids in Catalan government buildings. Sànchez and Cuixart are also accused of asking citizens to protest in front of polling stations on October 1.
Under Spanish criminal law, a sedition conviction carries jail sentences of between 4 and 15 years. According to article 544 of the Criminal Code, sedition charges may be attributed to those that rise up “publicly and tumultuously” to prevent the application of laws or the work of authorities “by force or illegally”.
But those demonstrations were far from being the first massive gatherings organized by ANC and Òmnium. Indeed, the two groups were responsible for organizing the massive and peaceful pro-independence demonstrations of the last few years.
The beginning of a long process of hearings and imprisonments
The imprisonment of Cuixart and Sànchez was just the beginning of a long process of hearings and imprisonments of Catalan leaders. After Cuixart and Sànchez, the next Catalan leaders to be jailed were the Catalan vice-president and seven ministers. Five of them were recently freed after spending 32 days behind bars.