Jailing of separatist leaders sparks protest demonstrations in Catalonia


Jailing of separatist leaders sparks protest demonstrations in Catalonia

Alejandro López and Paul Mitchell

18 October 2017

On Monday evening, Spain’s High Court ordered the jailing without bail of the leaders of the largest separatist organisations in Catalonia—Jordi Sànchez of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Jordi Cuixart of Òmnium Cultural.

The two leaders are being held pending investigation of trumped-up sedition charges. They are accused of orchestrating demonstrations on September 20 and 21 in which protesters allegedly attempted to prevent police raids on organisations and the arrest of officials associated with the October 1 Catalan independence referendum. Sedition carries a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

The High Court ruling and arrest of Sànchez and Cuixart mark the first jailings of political prisoners since the end of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

The imprisonment of the two separatist leaders sparked protests across Catalonia. On Monday night, thousands marched, banging pots and pans. On Tuesday, thousands more took to the streets of Barcelona in a midday work stoppage. A further demonstration was held later that evening.

Òmnium spokesperson Marcel Mauri told the demonstrators, “Not even the Franco regime dared to send the presidents of Òmnium and ANC to prison, so from today we will go out onto the streets to demand the freeing of political prisoners and democracy.” On Tuesday, both organisations called for a demonstration to be held this coming Saturday to demand the liberation of the two leaders.

The High Court ruling is an indication of the dictatorial measures the Spanish Popular Party (PP) government is prepared to carry out, paving the way for the imposition of Article 155 of the Spanish…

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