Catalan politicians denounce pretrial jail at UN
Former ministers Bassa, Rull, Romeva and Bassa bring their cases to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Four Catalan politicians preemptively imprisoned by Spanish courts for their role in the independence bid are bringing their cases to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, according to their lawyer Ben Emmerson.
All former ministers of the Catalan government that called a referendum and declared independence, Josep Rull, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa entered prison last March, while Joaquim Forn has been held behind bars since November.
They all face criminal charges of rebellion, an offence carrying sentences of up to 30 years in jail and implying the use of violence to achieve the independence of a region from Spain.
In an interview with the Catalan public radio, Emmerson referred to Germany’s recent decision to reject the extradition of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont under rebellion charges.
“Germany’s decision, which led to the withdrawal of the European Arrest Warrants altogether, has implications for political prisoners"
Ben Emmerson · Lawyer
“Germany’s decision, which led to the withdrawal of the European Arrest Warrants altogether, has implications for political prisoners. The German court says that none of what they did can be seen as inciting rebellion or sedition,” he said.
In total, there are nine pro-independence leaders jailed by the Spanish Supreme Court while awaiting trial. Former vice president Oriol Junqueras, MP Jordi Sánchez, and grassroots activist Jordi Cuixart brought their cases to the same UN body last March.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, formed by independent human rights experts, is part of the UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and can send appeals to governments.
Emmerson said it is “inevitable" that jailed leaders will leave prison, arguing that “out of the Spanish bubble" all countries are saying that what happened in Catalonia can be deemed “neither sedition, nor rebellion, nor a coup d'état.”