Civil society leader Jordi Sánchez demands to be released
The lawyers of the former Catalan National Assembly president claim that his imprisonment “undermines several fundamental rights”
The pro-independence leader Jordi Sánchez, jailed since October 16 for his role in Catalonia’s push for independence, presented an allegation to the Spanish Constitutional Court on Wednesday. He claimed that his imprisonment “undermines several fundamental rights,” and inasmuch demands to be released.
Sánchez became one of the most prominent figures of the pro-independence movement, in his role as the president of the grassroots organization Catalan National Assembly. Last week, he resigned in order to join Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s candidacy for the December 21 election.
Sánchez’s lawyers asked the Constitutional Court to suspend his imprisonment until the allegation is resolved, so he can participate in the electoral campaign on “equal terms” as the other candidates. If the Supreme Court does not accept the allegations, Sánchez’s defense says they will bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Spain’s Attorney General accused Sánchez of sedition, among other charges, for playing a key role in the demonstrations that took place in Barcelona in the run-up to the October 1 referendum on independence. National Court judge Carmen Lamela sent him to prison without bail, pending trial. The charges that he faces carry jail sentences of up to 15 years.
According to Sanchez’s defense, the case falls outside the National Court’s jurisdiction. His lawyers also dismissed the judge’s reasoning for keeping him behind bars, such as flight risk and spoliation of evidence. They claimed that none of these concerns had been sufficiently justified. Additionally, said the defense, they were not backed by the prosecutor’s charges.
Along with Sánchez, Lamela also ordered the same precautionary jailing for the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, another leading pro-independence civil society organization in Catalonia. On November 2, eight Catalan government members were also imprisoned, following a declaration of independence at the Catalan Parliament. Additionally, president Carles Puigdemont and four other ministers who traveled to Brussels currently face an extradition order.
Supreme Court to take over the case
Eventually, though, the decision on whether to release Sánchez might not depend on the Constitutional Court nor on the National Court. In recent days, the Supreme Court judge Pablo Llanera moved to take over the case against both government members, as well as civil society leaders Sánchez and Cuixart.
Lamela positioned herself in favor of transferring the case to the Supreme Court. She says that “those being investigated are members of a complex organization” which planned to achieve “Catalonia’s secession” contravening the “constitutional order”, and therefore should be tried together.
The Supreme Court is already handling the case against those Catalan Parliament bureau members who allowed a vote on the declaration of independence. So far, the measures imposed by the Supreme Court have been more lenient: Parliament president Carme Forcadell spent one night in prison, but was released after she paid bail of €150,000.
Puigdemont's pro-independence ticket
Puigdemont’s pro-independence Together for Catalonia candidacy will be officially presented in Brussels on Saturday. After failing to unite all like-minded parties in a joint candidacy, Puigdemont tried to present the list that he leads as wider than his own party, PDeCAT. In this regard, Sánchez’s inclusion in the list as an independent candidate was seen as a major move.