Politics 25/06/2021

More than 11,000 days in prison: the price for organising a referendum

Sànchez and Cuixart have spent 3 years, 8 months and 1 week behind bars

3 min
Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez thank the support of deputies and senators of the sovereignist parties, who went to the door of the Audiencia Nacional, although the police device did not allow them to approach them.

Barcelona"Dear friends, if you see this video it is because the state apparatus has decided to limit my freedom". "Unfortunately the judge's decision has been to deprive us of our freedom, an act that does not respond to any principle of justice but rather attempts to frighten and punish us". On October 16th, 2017, Spain's High Court imprisoned the leaders of Òmnium and ANC, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, and Spain once again had Catalan political prisoners. Despite having the lowest sentence of all those who were tried in the Supreme Court, the Jordis are, in fact, those who have spent the most time behind bars: 1,346 days, or what is the same, 3 years, 8 months and 1 week between the prisons of Soto del Real and Lledoners (in addition to visiting others during transfers). They have served 41% of the sentence of 9 years in prison that will remain on their records.

Soon half the government would join them. On November 2nd, the same judge, Carmen Lamela, ruled prison time for Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn (1,329 days), Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa (1,220 days), and also for Carles Mundó and Meritxell Borràs (32 days) and Santi Vila (1 day). A week later, the Supreme Court added Parliament's Speaker, Carme Forcadell (1,189 days). In total, the organisation of the 1-O has resulted in 11,475 accumulated days in State prisons. The pardons have put an end to this stage, although a new one could soon begin, with more prison sentences stemming from the many legal cases arising from 1-O, despite the fact that the Council of Europe and other international organisations are openly calling for an end to repression of independence.

Provisional prison

Junqueras for being the head of the Government (with Carles Puigdemont in exile), Forn for being responsible for the Catalan police and Sànchez and Cuixart for being the leaders of civil organisations, the Supreme Court - which took over the case - decided to punish them further, maintaining for all of them preventive detention revoked for the other accused on December 4th. All political prisoners, except Cuixart, were part of the electoral lists for the elections to the Catalan Parliament that were to be held on December 21st and, although some of them also chose to try to serve as MPs, it soon became clear that the Spanish courts would try to avoid it at any price. Junqueras was even sanctioned for broadcasting an audio message at an election rally. Sànchez was not allowed to attend his investiture session and, in March, the investigating judge, Pablo Llarena, decided to re-imprison the politicians he had granted freedom to immediately before checking whether Turull could end up being invested as president.

The provisional imprisonment for all of them would be long. First in Madrid, in the prisons of Estremera and Soto del Real for the men and in Alcalá Meco for the women, and, from July 2018, in Catalonia in the centers of Lledoners in the case of men and Puig de les Basses in the case of women (Forcadell ended up asking for a transfer to Mas d'Enric in Tarragona and, once convicted, to that of Wad-Ras in Barcelona). On February 1st, 2019, back to Madrid, to begin the trial at the Supreme Court. During almost two years, in the case of the Jordis, (the sentence of the Supreme Court was made public on October 14th, 2019) only one of them was exceptionally allowed to leave with medical leave, to meet their newborn son, and in the case of those who were running in the Spanish elections in April of that year, in order to attend the constitutive session in Congress and the Senate. On the other hand, in the case of the European elections in May, Junqueras was not even allowed to collect his credentials.

Article 100.2

Once convicted and, aware that the judiciary was watching them with a magnifying glass, the Generalitat opted not to grant them an open prison degree. By January 2020, Cuixart and Sànchez had served a quarter of their sentence and could begin to apply for permits. But the way to make the stay in prison more flexible for the penitentiary institutions was article 100.2, which allows prisoners to leave for work, volunteering or taking care of family members between the months of February and July of that year —with a parenthesis forced by the covid confinement—. In his first day of work, after two years without being allowed, Cuixart went directly to his factory in Sentmenat.

Open prison regime

There has been much controversy linked to the concession, on July 14th, 2020 (it was executed from the 17th), of an open prison regime. The Prosecutor's Office was quick to oppos it and the Spanish right cried foul. And that, in the case of men, they were only allowed to enjoy it (weekends at home and staing out of prison during the week except at night) for 50 days, 11 days in July 2020 and 39 in 2021. Sànchez and Cuixart, for example, have enjoyed an open prison regime for 50 days out of a total of 1,346, or 3.7% of the days they have spent in prison. The Supreme Court opposed this despite the fact that the penitentiary surveillance judges had validated them and now the it has also written a report against the pardons. This time, however, it will not be able to prevent them from finally going out on the street, free.

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