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Supreme Court postpones decision over whether to release jailed Catalan leaders until Monday

Eight ministers and two civil society leaders imprisoned for their role in Catalonia’s push for independence appear before judge Pablo Llanera

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01 December 2017 01:06 PM

by

ACN | Madrid

The Spanish Supreme Court postponed the decision over whether to release the imprisoned Catalan leaders until Monday next week, investigation sources told ACN.

Eight ministers and two civil society leaders preemptively jailed for their role in Catalonia’s push for independence appeared before judge Pablo Llanera on Friday, who is expected to reassess the precautionary measures imposed when the accused were still being tried at the National Court. Llanera reportedly told defendants that the decision would not be made until Monday.

The hearing ended past 1pm, after all the hearings concluded. The accused did not answer Llanera’s questions, and only responded to their lawyers.

The highest-ranking incarcerated official, vice president Oriol Junqueras, was the first person to appear before the judge at 9:30am. His hearing lasted 20 minutes. Ministers Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Joaquim Forn, Meritxell Borràs, Josep Rull and Jordi Turull came next, followed by grassroots leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez.

Llanera could reassess the precautionary measures imposed by the National Court after taking over the case two weeks ago. So far, Llanera has dictated less severe measures than his counterpart at the National Court, Carmen Lamela: while Lamela sent ten people to jail, Llanera only imprisoned Catalan Parliament president Carme Forcadell, who was then released after paying a €150,000 bail.

All the government officials were dismissed by the Spanish government following a declaration of independence on October 27. They were subsequently accused of rebellion by Spain’s Attorney General — charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years. On November 2, Lamela sent them to prison without the bail pending trial.

In the past days, defense attorneys presented allegations against the preemptive imprisonment arguing that the dismissed ministers no longer hold any office, and therefore there is no risk of them repeating the offenses. Additionally, the fact that many of them are running as candidates for pro-independence parties in the December 21 election should be seen as a proof that there is no risk of them posing a flight risk, attorneys said.

Civil society leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sánchez were imprisoned on October 16 for their role in the demonstrations that took place in Barcelona in the run-up to the independence referendum. They faced charges of sedition, among others, that carry sentences of up to 15 years in jail.

When he was sent to prison, Sánchez was the president of the Catalan National Assembly, one of the leading pro-independence organizations in Catalonia. He later resigned in order to join president Carles Puigdemont’s candidacy, Together for Catalonia, as the second candidate on the list.

Released before the campaign

If released, imprisoned Catalan leaders who are running on pro-independence tickets would be able to return to Catalonia from where they’re held, in the Madrid region, before the electoral campaign starts on December 5.

As Puigdemont and four other ministers are still in Belgium awaiting a decision on their extradition, Sánchez could become the highest-ranking figure on the ticket to run in the campaign from Catalonia.

Vice president Junqueras is the head of another pro-independence candidacy, ERC, which polls suggest could become the most voted party in Catalonia.

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  • A Spanish police van arriving in the Supreme Court carrying some jailed pro-independence leaders (by Xavier Alsinet)