Pre-trial detention for another five Catalan pro-independence leaders / New Caledonia referendum set for 4 November

16 to 23 March

Rull and Turull, before Llarena hears them.
Rull and Turull, before Llarena hears them. Author: Junts per Catalunya
WEEKLY ROUNDUP. Spain’s Supreme Court has decreed pre-trial detention for Jordi Turull, candidate for the presidency of the Catalan government, and another four pro-independence leaders. With them, Catalan political prisoners are now nine within the general cause against the pro-independence movement. To remain in jail too is Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian activist who slapped an Israeli soldier in the face. Tamimi has received an eight-month sentence. Meanwhile, the Congress of New Caledonia has set the date of 4 November to hold its referendum on independence from France.


Spanish Supreme Court sends candidate to Catalan presidency to jail. Judge Pablo Llarena has decreed pre-trial detention for Jordi Turull (Together for Catalonia), the MPs who 22 March was proposed by president of Parliament Roger Torrent for the presidency of the Generalitat. In the vote’s first round, Turull did not gather enough support to be elected, yet a second round vote is still pending.

Llarena has decided to indict Turull on rebellion charges, which can mean up to 25 years in prison. Along with Turull—and within the same cause against preparations for the 1 October 2017 Catalan referendum on independence and the subsequent proclamation of the Catalan Republic—, another 12 pro-independence leaders are being charged with rebellion. They are Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, vice president Oriol Junqueras, ministers Joaquim Forn, Raül Romeva, Clara Ponsatí, Josep Rull, Toni Comín and Dolors Bassa, former president of Parliament Carme Forcadell, former president of grassroots association ANC Jordi Sànchez, president of association Òmnium Cultural Jordi Cuixart, and ERC’s general secretary Marta Rovira.

Just before Llarena announced the prosecution of the pro-independence leaders, Marta Rovira explained in a letter that she was going into exile. Of the other leaders charged with rebellion, Puigdemont, Ponsatí and Comín are also in exile since October. Sànchez and Cuixart have been in pre-trial detention jail since October, and Junqueras and Forn since November.

Pre-trial detention can last up to two years in Spain, which are extendable to a further two more years.


New Caledonia independence referendum to be held 4 November. The Congress of New Caledonia has unanimously approved the date, even if a debate on the French colonial legacy has sparked controversy. The question wording will be worked on from 27 March. The holding of the referendum is foreseen in the French Constitution after the 1998 Nouméa Accord, signed by pro-independence and unionist parties. If “no” wins the vote, the deal foresees the possibility to hold yet another two independence votes in 2020 and 2022.

Ahed Tamimi to serve 8-month jail sentence. The Palestinian activist, 17, has accepted a plea deal that too includes a 5,000 shekel (some 1,170 euro) fine. The 3-month period in detention since she was arrested in December is included in the total time. Tamimi was arrested after a video recording circulated in which she hit and slapped an armed Israeli soldier. Tamimi’s arrest triggered a wave of petitions so that she was immediately released. The young Palestinian is an activist against the occupation of Palestinian lands by the State of Israel and against the exploitation of natural resources.

Inuit languages mandatory for Nunavut’s government employees?Paul Quassa, primer minister of this Canadian semi-autonomous territory, says his government wants all its public workers to show fluency of one Inuit language within the next four years. Two Inuit languages —l’inuktitut i l’inuinnaqtun— are official in Nunavut, alongside English and French. 70% of Nunavut’sinhabitants speak Inuktitut, while 1% speak Inuinnaqtun.