Pro-independence grass-root leaders sent to prison on sedition charges

Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart will already sleep in jail tonight

Catalan National Assembly president, Jordi Sánchez (left), and Òmnium Cultural president, Jordi Cuixart (by Tània Tàpia)
Catalan National Assembly president, Jordi Sánchez (left), and Òmnium Cultural president, Jordi Cuixart (by Tània Tàpia) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 16, 2017 09:24 PM

The leaders of two of the main pro-independence civil society organizations have been sent to prison without bail on sedition charges. A Spanish judge decided to imprison Jordi Sànchez, president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Cultural, for their role in the October 1 referendum. Both of them will already sleep in jail tonight. The same judge also decided to release without passport the chief of the Catalan police, Josep-Lluís Trapero, accused of not having done enough to stop voters from participating in the independence referendum.

The initial investigation against Trapero, Sánchez and Cuixart focused on demonstrations on September 20 and 21, when fourteen high-ranking officials of the Catalan government were arrested and people protested massively, and peacefully, in the streets. But the case was extended to also include events during the October 1 referendum and the alleged “flagrant inaction” of Catalonia’s police corps, the Mossos d’Esquadra, to stop the vote.

Sánchez and Cuixart lead two of the biggest pro-independence organizations in Catalonia, responsible for organizing the massive pro-Yes demonstrations of the last few years. The prosecutor argues that they mobilized people on referendum day, asking citizens to protest in front of polling stations, thus impeding police officers from closing them down.

In a report sent to the judge, the Spanish Guardia Civil police accuse the Mossos of failing to stop the vote from taking place, thus prompting the intervention of Spanish law enforcement agencies. Their violent crackdown on referendum voters left 893 injured, according to official figures released by Catalan government.

The document states that individual officers are not to blame, and points instead to the Catalan police chief, Josep Lluís Trapero, who allegedly acted “in direct connection” with Catalan pro-independence leaders — such as the president and the vice president — as part of a “strategic committee” with the ultimate goal of declaring independence.

According to the report, this “committee” also included the leaders of the two civil society organizations: Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart.

Sedition charges

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”.

Protests against the imprisonment

Both ANC and Òmnium Cultural have already called their followers to protest against the imprisonment of the organization leaders. On Tuesday at 7pm, pro-independence organizations call people to "peacefully and democratically" gather in front of the Delegations of the Spanish government in the four provinces of Catalonia: Barcelona, Lleida, Girona and Tarragona. Moreover, ANC and Òmnium call a brief and symbolical work stoppage tomorrow at noon. As the news of the imprisonement came out, people sporadically performed a pots-and-pans protest.