Spain Court Revokes Jailed Catalan Separatists’ Privileges

This 2017 file photo shows Catalan regional Vice-President, Oriol Junqueras, left, and Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, at a protest called by pro-independence supporters outside the Palau Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

MADRID (AFP) — Spain’s top court on Friday revoked the semi-open prison regime that had been granted to nine separatist leaders serving time for a failed 2017 independence bid in the country’s northeastern region of Catalonia.

The decision in effect revoked the low-risk status given to the nine prisoners in July, which allowed them to return home for the weekends, a court ruling showed.

It also revoked their right to leave prison with work permits or do voluntary work, which all nine had enjoyed since the beginning of the year. 

The public prosecutor’s office had appealed both measures, prompting Friday’s ruling, with the judges finding the privileges had been granted “prematurely.”

“More time is needed to properly evaluate the evolution of the prisoner and the regime, especially in the case of long sentences,” they said, pointing out that when the privileges were granted, six of the nine detainees had not served a quarter of their time.

In October 2019, Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced seven senior politicians and two civil leaders to jail terms of between nine and 13 years for their role in an illegal referendum and a short-lived declaration of independence two years earlier. 

By then, all nine had already spent more than two years behind bars in pre-trial detention.

Among the prisoners is former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, who is serving the heaviest sentence of 13 years, as well as five ex-government officials, the former parliamentary speaker and two former civil society leaders. 

Despite its separatist leanings, the Catalan government, which is responsible for managing the region’s prisons, did not automatically grant the prisoners a more open prison regime, in a move which was sharply criticised by certain radical groups at the time. 

© Agence France-Presse

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