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Thousands protest in Barcelona’s streets, airport and train stations. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says Spain is a “consolidated democracy” as the worst political crisis in forty years continues.
Oriol Junqueras, former Vice President of the Catalan regional government has been given a 13 years prison sentence for sedition and misuse of public funds.
The Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid announced today the sentences against 6 ministers of the Catalan government that organised the non-authorised independence referendum in October 2017, which go from 10 to 13 years of jail. Former President of the Catalan regional government Carme Forcadell was given 11 years, and grass-roots activists separatist leaders were sentenced to nine years.
All been cleared of violent rebellion. Meanwhile, a judge reactivated the European detention order against former President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont.
The seven judges of the highest court in Spain announced the sentences after 4 months of trial that heard more than 400 witnesses.
PROTESTS IN STREETS AND TRAIN STATIONS
As the sentence was known, thousands of university students in Barcelona and other major cities of Catalonia like Tarragona and Girona, left the classes and took the city centres and major motorways to stop the traffic.
Other protestors occupied train stations and hundreds tried to stop the activity of the Barcelona airport. Police was deployed to protect the major infrastructures. No violence was recorded in the first hours of peaceful protests but police charges started later.
— Francesc Vilallonga (@vilallongapac) October 14, 2019
SÁNCHEZ RESPONDS TO CRITICISM: “SPAIN IS A CONSOLIDATED DEMOCRACY”
Spain’s Prime Minister, Socialist Pedro Sánchez, called to respect the ruling of the Supreme Court, and said “a new scenario” opens in which dialogue and the rule of the law should help find a solution to the Catalan conflict. In a read statement, he also emphasised the separation of powers and said Spain is a “consolidated democracy”.
The Spanish constitution is based on the “indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation”. Right wing opposition parties demanded Sánchez to publicly commit not to pardon the sentenced leaders.
Quim Torra, President of the Catalan government, reacted to the sentences by saying that the ruling was “unjust and anti-democratic”, criticised the what he defined as “repressions” and called to take the streets “peacefully”.
Oriol Junqueras, who is in custody since 2017, said in an audio message that “there is no other option than building our new state to flee those who persecute democrats, bans votes and jails people for their political ideas”.
Other social pro-independence leaders also defined the ruling as a “vengeance”.
CHRISTIANS CALLED TO BE “PEACEMAKERS”
The Catalan conflict has become the worst political conflict in Spain since the end of the Franco dictatorship.
The ruling of the Supreme Court is seen as the most important court decision in the last 40 years and will directly impact the snap general election to be held in Spain on November 10.
Around 50% of the Catalan population supports independence, and the Catalan authorities have been in the hands of pro-independence parties in the last years.
Two in three Catalans favoured the celebration of the independence referendum of 2017, despite it was declared illegal and unconstitutional.
In the last years, Christians in Spain have been called to be “peacemakers” and “bridge builders”. Evangelicals in Catalonia have expressed views supporting both independence and unity with Spain. Organisations such as the Spanish Evangelical Alliance and church groups have analysed the conflict and encouraged Christians to be an example of peace and loving relationships in the midst of socio-political tension and disagreements.
NO REACTION OF THE EU
The European Union said the trials after the 2017 referendum are “and remain, an internal matter for Spain, which has to be dealt with in line with its constitutional order”.
It is expected that the jailed Catalan politicians will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.