The Strategist

Spanish government pardons nine Catalan separatist leaders

06/23/2021 - 04:14

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has pardoned nine Catalan separatist leaders convicted of a failed attempt to declare regional independence in 2017. Mr Sanchez announced the pardon in a televised address. The ban on those pardoned from holding public office remains in place, Reuters reported.

Catalan separatist leaders were sentenced in 2019 to between nine and 13 years for offences of sedition and misuse of public funds committed while organising a referendum on secession from Spain. They are to be released from prison after the pardon is published in the official government gazette.

On 1 October 2017, 90.18% of Catalans voted for independence in the referendum, with 7.83% against. The turnout was 43.03% (2.87 million people). The Spanish authorities called it illegal.

The longest sentence was given to the former deputy head of the autonomous region's government, Oriol Junqueras. He was sentenced to 13 years for "sedition and abuse of public funds". The ex-speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadel, received 11 and a half years in prison. Former Catalan National Assembly leader Jordi Sanchez and Omnium Cultural chairman Jordi Cuixart were sentenced to nine years in prison. Three others were found guilty only of disobeying the law and did not receive prison terms. Former Catalan head Carles Puigdemont fled to Belgium.