Wed Jun 23rd, 2021 at 02:34:29 AM EST
Four years ago, the Spanish government jailed nine Catalan leaders for the "crime" of advocating peacefully for independence. Now, it has pardoned them:
Spain's prime minister has called for a new "era of dialogue and understanding" as his Socialist-led government pardoned nine Catalan independence leaders for their roles in the illegal, failed push for regional secession four years ago that plunged the country into its gravest political crisis in decades.
The beneficiaries of the pardons are: the former regional vice-president, Oriol Junqueras; the former regional government spokesperson, Jordi Turull; the former Catalan foreign affairs minister, Raül Romeva; the former regional territorial minister, Josep Rull; the former employment minister, Dolors Bassa; the former regional interior minister, Joaquim Forn; the former speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, and the two influential civil society leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart.
All were found guilty of crimes including sedition and misuse of public funds and sentenced to terms of between nine and 13 years by Spain's supreme court in October 2019. They were also banned from holding public office for periods matching their prison sentences.
But while the pardon will mean Spain's victims are released from jail, they will still be banned from office, so people will be banned from election for peacefully advocating their political views. The pardons can also be reversed if the victims "reoffend", which suggests that Spain's intention is for ongoing persecution, rather than an actual step forward. As for the recipients, Jordi Cuixart has said straight-out "we will persist". Spain is continuing judicial persecution in Catalonia, and this is so blatant that it has been condemned by the Council of Europe. If they want a new era of dialogue and understanding, then they need to offer more: a complete amnesty, compensation for their victims, and a referendum. And if they don't surrender the first two, their victims will get it from the ECHR instead.