Spain: Court annuls daily releases for Catalan secessionists

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s Supreme Court has revoked a less restrictive prison status awarded to nine Catalan political figures previously sentenced to jail for their part in a secession attempt in Catalonia. The status would have allowed them almost daily release.

The court said Friday that such a measure was “premature” given that none of the nine had served half their sentence and most not even a quarter of it. The sentences ranged between nine and 13 years.

The nine were convicted in 2019 of sedition and misuse of public funds following the failed independence bid two years earlier. After they were transferred to prisons in the northeastern region, the pro-independence Catalan regional government granted them third-grade status last July. meaning they could leave prison during the day to carry out certain activities.

The July measure was quickly suspended following appeals by prosecutors.

The new court ruling comes as the leftist Spanish government is considering possible pardons and a reform of the sedition law that would favor the nine.

The nine include the former vice-president of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras, and five ex-regional cabinet members.

Former regional president Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium and is still sought by Spanish authorities.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the secession push in Catalonia was Spain’s most serious crisis in decades. Polls have long shown the wealthy region’s 7.5 million inhabitants are roughly evenly divided over independence. Spain’s constitution says the country is indivisible.

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