Spanish court jails Catalan leaders for independence bid

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Spain’s Supreme Court has sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to jail terms of up to 13 years for their part in a 2017 independence bid. The region’s former head of government said the sentences were an “atrocity.”

The Spanish Supreme Court on Monday imposed prison sentences ranging from nine to 13 years on nine Catalan separatist leaders.

The sentences were lower than demanded by the prosecution, which had requested up to 25 years behind bars for the former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras.

The court sentenced Oriel Junqueras to 13 years of prison on grounds of sedition and the misuse of public funds, said the ruling. It also handed 12-year sentences to three other former regional ministers.

In the dock were 12 former Catalan politicians who were being tried for their actions in the 2017 attempt to break away from Spain after an independence referendum that was ruled illegal. Three of the accused were not jailed, being found guilty of disobedience but not sedition.

All the defendants were acquitted of the most serious charge of rebellion.

The former head of Catalonia’s regional government, Carles Puigdemont, on Monday said the jail terms were an “atrocity.”

“It is time to react like never before. For the future of our sons and daughters. For democracy. For Europe. For Catalonia,” he wrote on Twitter.

Media outside the Supreme Court (picture-alliance/dpa/AP/P. White)

There was strong media interest in the verdict at Madrid’s Supreme Court

Puigdemont was the head of the Catalan government at the time of the independence bid, but he was not part of this trial because he fled to Belgium.

Both the government and separatists released their own videos on social media before the verdict. Separatists claim the trial was political and say they have done nothing wrong, while the government says the trial has strictly adhered to the law.

While separatist protests are normally largely peaceful, police sources have said authorities are prepared for potential violence.

Madrid has said it is prepared to take direct control of Catalonia, as it did briefly in 2017, should leaders of the separatist movement break the law.

The ruling is likely to muddy the waters ahead of a national election on November 10 — Spain’s fourth in four years. The vote is scheduled for November 10, and will likely influence the direction taken by the separatist movement.

A July opinion poll showed that 48.3% of Catalans were against secession and 44.0% were in favor.source:

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