THE nine Catalan political leaders and activists, sentenced from 9-13 years in prison for their roles in the October 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia, have been granted regular, temporary release.
It follows the decision of the Lledoners’ prison board to grant Jordi Turull and Josep Rull temporary leave, from Monday to Friday, for 12 hours daily.
The other seven, Oriol Junqueras, Raül Romeva, Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, Joaquim Forn, Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa, had already been granted temporary leave.
They are all being allowed to work, or volunteer for three-to-five days a week, up to 11 hours a day, while some have also been granted leave to take care of elderly relatives. But they must all return to jail each night to sleep.
All nine leaders are serving up to 13 years for sedition, having been sentenced by Spain’s Supreme Court on 14th October last year.
The leave granted to them follows Article 100.2 of Spanish prison regulations, applicable to prisoners who fall in the medium-category sentencing, and who have served 25% of their sentences.
During the Catalan Trial, however, prosecutors requested for the sentences to include a clause, meaning that not one of the officials could enjoy temporary leave until they had served half of the conviction.
But this was rejected by the Spanish Supreme Court, and the penitentiary judges have also ruled it out.
Oriol Junqueras, the jailed former Catalan vice-president, left prison for the first time on Tuesday, under the terms of the temporary leave granted to him, so that he can work for six hours a day, three days a week, at a university.
He will work at a university campus in Manresa, for the Bages University Foundation (FUB), which is a private organisation, providing courses for students in Catalonia. Junqueras, who will have his own office, is set to begin preparing the history course he will start to teach after Easter.
This course is, reportedly, available to anyone who is interested in taking it, and the university authorities aim to make the presence of Junqueras on campus “as normal as possible”.
Raül Romeva, the former Catalan “Foreign Affairs Minister, also left prison for the first time on Monday. For three days a week, he will work for a private organisation, evaluating the progress made in the 25 years since the Dayton Peace Accords ended the Bosnian War.
On Thursday, a Catalan court also authorised regular temporary release for Jordi Cuixart, despite the Spanish prosecutor’s opposition.
The Spanish prosecutor had opposed Cuixart’s temporary leave, arguing that the offence was “exceptional, and required a restrictive interpretation” when awarding daytime release from prison.
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