Catalan independence leaders given lengthy prison sentences by Spanish court

Three other defendants were found guilty of disobedience, fined and banned from public office for 20 months.

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Nine of the 12 group members were accused of rebellion, which carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, but found not guilty.

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Oriol Junqueras, the former vice president of Catalonia, received the longest sentence. He was handed 13 years in prison and also banned from holding public office for 13 years after being found guilty of sedition and misuse of public funds.

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Catalonia President Quim Torra described the sentences as an “act of revenge, not of justice.”

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Torra told reporters that he had asked to appear in front of the Catalonian parliament as soon as possible and would urgently send a letter to the King of Spain and Spain President Pedro Sanchez.

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“Catalonia lives a critical hour,” he told reporters, describing the 12 defendants as “honorable and peaceful people.”

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“We demand amnesty. Threat, imprisonment and punishment are not the solution. That is the inheritance of the dictatorship, not a trait of democracy.”

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The leaders sentenced

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Former Catalan foreign minister Raul Romeva, Jordi Turull, the former Catalan government spokesman, and ex-labor minister Dolors Bassa were convicted of sedition and misuse of public funds and sentenced to 12 years in prison. They were also banned from holding public office for 12 years.

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Sedition is defined in Spanish law as the act of leading “the citizenry in a public and tumultuous rising which prevents the application of law and obstructs compliance with court decisions.”

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Carme Forcadell, the former speaker of the Catalan parliament, was sentenced to 11 years and six months in prison, and banned from holding public office for the same period of time, for sedition.

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Former Catalan interior minister Joaquim Forn and former territorial minister Josep Rull were both sentenced to 10 years and six months in prison and banned from holding public office, while influential grassroots activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, were sentenced to nine years in prison and also banned from public office.

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Three others — Santiago Vila, Meritxell Borras and Carles Mundo — were found guilty of disobedience, fined and banned from public office for 20 months.

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Former head of the Catalan regional government Carles Puigdemont — now living in self-imposed exile in Belgium — described the sentences as an “outrage.”

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He posted on Twitter: “100 years in prison in total. An outrage. Now more than ever, with you and with your families. It’s time to react, like never before. For the future of our children. For democracy. For Europe. For Catalunya.”

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Spain descended into its worst political crisis since the restoration of democracy in the 1970s when the separatist leaders attempted to push forward with the region’s secession two years ago.

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Police and protestors clashed in the streets when a referendum, ruled illegal by Spain’s constitutional court, went ahead and was followed by a declaration of independence in October 2017.

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