“Weeks-long” protests launched in Catalonia after jailed independence leaders are given 9- to 13-year sentences

Spain’s Supreme Court says “tumultuous uprising” was encouraged in 2017 by 9 politicians, grassroots leaders

Students block Barcelona's main avenue after the ruling was announced.
Students block Barcelona's main avenue after the ruling was announced. Author: SEPC @ Twitter
Nine Catalan pro-independence politicians and grassroots social leaders were given, 14 October, jail terms of between 9 and 13 years, after the Spanish Supreme Court found them guilty of sedition for their role in the 2017 independence referendum. Several civil society groups in Catalonia were today announcing “massive” and “weeks-long” protests. Several thousands people poured into the streets of Catalan cities and towns.

Vice president of the Catalan government Oriol Junqueras received the longest sentence, 13 years. Ministers Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa were given 12 years. Catalan Parliament President Carme Forcadell was given 11,5 years. Ministers Josep Rull and Joaquim Forn received 10,5 years. Civil society leaders Jordi Sànchez (Catalan National Assembly) and Jordi Cuixart (Òmnium) were sentenced to 9 years.

All of them were sentenced for sedition, after the Court understood that the pro-independence leaders encouraged a “tumultuous uprising” against Spanish authorities with the aim of breaking up from Spain.

Junqueras, Romeva, Turull and Bassa were also found guilty of misuse of public funds.

The nine sentenced leaders have been held in pre-trial detention for almost 2 years.

Junqueras’ party Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) released an audio of his leader in which he says the ruling “is not justice, but revenge.” He adds that “today there are still more reasons to be in favour of independence […]. They are ruling against democracy.” Ministers Santi Vila, Carles Mundó and Meritxell Borràs were found guilty of disobedience and received fines and bans on holding office. They will not serve a prison sentence.

New arrest warrant for Puigdemont

Meanwhile, then-Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, another four ministers (Clara Ponsatí, Toni Comín, Meritxell Serret and Lluís Puig) and another two independence leaders (Anna Gabriel and Marta Rovira) are exiled in Belgium, Switzerland and Scotland.

The Spanish media said that judge Pablo Llarena issued today another international arrest warrant for Puigdemont, based on the sentence against the other nine pro-independence leaders. A previous attempt to have the Catalan president in exile extradited to Spain failed after a court in Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein decided not to hand him over to the Spanish authorities over rebellion charges, but only on misuse of public funds.

Catalan president: sentences “unfair, antidemocratic”

Catalan President Quim Torra reacted to the verdict by saying that the sentences are “unfair and antidemocratic” following a “political trial” targetting “Catalonia’s right to self-determination.”

Spanish president: trial with “every guarantee,” no will on the Spanish government for pardon

Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, who is seeking another term in the upcoming Spanish legislative election of 10 November, said that the trial had “every guarantee” to be considered fair. Sánchez added that the Spanish government has for now “no will” to consider a pardon for the nine jailed leaders.

Protests launched in Catalan cities, airport

Almost immediately after the verdict was announced, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of several cities in Catalonia to protest the jail terms. Some streets in Catalan capital Barcelona have been blocked by demonstrators, as have been several railroads.

Pro-independence civil society groups are announcing “weeks-long” protests against the sentences.

The most massive protest so far is the popular mobilization at Barcelona Airport, where thousands of protesters are seeking to block the facility. Increasingly collapsed as the hours go by, some flights are being canceled while others are delayed.

This picture posted by Catalan news site Vilaweb shows the massive concentration of protesters at the airport premises:

Catalan police charged with batons against protesters at the Barcelona Airport metro station who were seeking to reach the terminals:

A few hours later, Spanish and Catalan police charged again several times against protesters. Several were injured, including reporters wearing journalist's armbands:

The call to block the airport was voiced by highly decentralised movement Democratic Tsunami, as the first of several protests in the coming days and weeks:
Meanwhile, main pro-independence grassroots group Catalan National Assembly (ANC) is calling for a “massive response” against the sentence. Several marches are being planned later this week.

Groups of demonstrators concentrated in front of Òmnium’s headquarters in Barcelona.
The Committee for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), a network of highly decentralised pro-independence local groups, called for a “people’s revolt” against “the authoritarian fascism of the Spanish state.”