25 years of jail for Catalan leaders?

Submitted by martin on 6 November, 2018 - 8:09 Author: Martin Thomas

On Friday 5 November Spain's Supreme Court Prosecutor called for sentences of up to 25 years for the Catalan nationalist politicians jailed after the 1 October 2017 referendum on independence for Catalonia.

The prosecutor's case is that the Spanish constitution says that such a referendum could be called only with the agreement of the Spanish government. The Spanish government did not agree: in fact it mobilised state forces to try to disrupt the referendum.

The referendum ended inconclusively - 92% for Catalan independence, on only a 43% turnout.

A December 2017 election for the Catalan regional parliament was similarly inconclusive: separatist parties won a majority of seats but a minority of the vote. Since then the Catalan separatists have focused on pressing for Spanish government agreement to a referendum, and freedom for the jailed politicians.

From June 2018 the new Madrid minority government, headed by the "centre-left" PSOE, has attempted a balancing act. It depended on votes from Catalan nationalists to take office, and needs them to pass its Budget (though in Spain a government can survive losing its Budget, by rolling over the previous year's).

On the same day that the Prosecutor demanded drastic sentences, a key parliamentary ally of the PSOE, Pablo Iglesias of Podemos, went to the prison to talk with the jailed Catalan nationalists and seek their support for the budget which Podemos has agreed with PSOE.

The Catalan nationalists say they want the prisoners freed before they back the budget. The government claims that it has no power to free them now that the court processes are underway, and that it has done the most it can by having its Solicitor-General make representations to the court to have the "rebellion" charge against them replaced by the lesser one of "sedition" (still carrying up to 12 year sentences).

The trial is expected to start in 2019 and last at least three months, with the decision not known before the local and regional elections scheduled for 26 May 2019.

On 4 November, about 15,000 people protested outside Lledoners prison calling for the prisoners' release. As the revolutionary socialists of IZAR point out: "'The acts of force, aggression and violence' existed but were used by the Spanish state against the Catalan people who only wanted to vote and decide their future".

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