Judge to consider sending pro-independence officials back to jail

Supreme Court to announce on Friday which investigated leaders will be prosecuted and for what crimes


The Spanish Supreme Court on January 30, 2018 (by Javier Barbancho)
The Spanish Supreme Court on January 30, 2018 (by Javier Barbancho) / ACN

Guifré Jordan | Barcelona

March 21, 2018 02:10 PM

The Spanish Supreme Court, in charge of the pro-independence judicial case, summoned six investigated officials on Friday to discuss whether to incarcerate them – again. Four of the deposed ministers who spent a month behind bars –Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa – will have to attend the session, as well as the former Catalan Parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, who herself spent a night in custody. The pro-independence Esquerra Republicana party secretary general, Marta Rovira, has also been summoned. They are all under investigation and free on a bail after everyone but Rovira spent time in prison.

Indictment to be announced

Additionally, on Friday, the Supreme Court judge will also announce which investigated leaders will be prosecuted and for what crimes. So far 28 officials are involved in the case, including all of Carles Puigdemont’s deposed cabinet members, several former parliament bureau officials, two grassroots leaders and some pro-independence party officials. Twelve of them have spent time in prison, and four of them are still behind bars, including ousted vice-president Oriol Junqueras.  

Potential candidate for president summoned

The indictment of these officials on Friday coincides with negotiations to swear in an MP as new Catalan president. All eyes are now set on Jordi Turull, a member of Puigdemont's candidacy, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), and one of the officials who spent a month in prison in November. He is thought to be the backup plan, after the Spanish judiciary blocked presidential candidacies for Carles Puigdemont and Jordi Sànchez, as they are not able to attend Parliament. In the event Turull is chosen, he should be able to turn up in the chamber and take office – unless, that is, the Supreme Court sends him back to jail.

Prosecutors will have their say

The judge has only summoned six out of the 28 investigated leaders. These half a dozen officials are the only ones who aren’t in prison or abroad, and are still acting MPs in Parliament while out on a bail. Their hearings will be on Friday at 10:30 am local time.  For the officials to be sent to prison again, the private and public prosecutors must request such measures, which then must then be approved by the presiding Supreme Court Judge. 

Jailed indicted individuals barred from office

Under Spanish law, while an investigated individual is in pre-trial prison after being indicted, “they will be automatically barred from office,” if they hold a public service position. This would mean that Oriol Junqueras and Jordi Sànchez – and potentially, the six officials summoned on Friday – would be stripped of their status as MPs.

Yet, the indictment can be appealed by their defense, so this would only happen when a final judgment on the matter is taken. Concerning Carles Puigdemont and his four deposed ministers in Belgium, some media outlets report that the judge is considering reissuing a European arrest warrant against them.