Court to decide on freeing Catalan leaders
Spain's Attorney General requests 100,000 euros bail for jailed minister Joaquim Forn, and for Jordi Sànchez to remain in prison
Jordi Sànchez and Joaquim Forn, two Catalan pro-independence leaders imprisoned in Madrid for around five months, left prison for the Spanish Supreme Court on Tuesday morning to attend a hearing after which judges are to decide on their release -in the end Forn decided not to attend the hearing, but his defense did.
In a major turn from previous hearings, after the court tackled Forn's case Spain's Attorney General requested a 100,000 euros bail for Forn, thus paving the way for his release. The prosecutor asked to keep Sànchez in prison. This, despite the fact that during the hearing, his defense said that he is ready to step down as MP in order to be released.
The former president of the influential Catalan National Assembly (ANC) grassroots organization, Sànchez is currently a member of the Catalan parliament and the candidate put forward by pro-independence parties to be appointed as head of the government. If he steps down, it is clear that a backup plan for the post should be agreed on.
Sànchez, a grassroots activist, and Forn, the deposed Catalan home affairs minister, face criminal charges for their role in the independence bid. There are currently four Catalan leaders jailed in Spanish prisons, but 12 people have been held behind bars at some point during the investigation.
Last February, judge Llarena dismissed Sànchez’s and Forn’s freedom petition, alleging the risk of repeated offenses. Their lawyers challenged the decision, arguing that the defendants have withdrawn from unilateral means to achieve independence, and stressing that they abide by the Spanish Constitution.
As the Supreme Court dismissed Sànchez’s request for temporary permission to leave jail and assume the post, his election as president is far from assured. He challenged the decision, but the judge is not expected to address this particular issue on Tuesday.
Sànchez entered prison on October 16 along with Jordi Cuixart, the president of another major pro-independence organization, Òmnium Cultural. In a manifesto issued last week to mark five months since their imprisonment, pro-independence organizations claimed that Sànchez and Cuixart were being “held behind bars for their political ideas.”