The Spanish Supreme Court on Monday sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to terms ranging from 9 to 13 years in prison for their role in organising Catalonia’s attempt to secede from Spain in 2017.
Former Catalan regional vice president Oriol Junqueras received the heaviest sentence of 13 years in prison for sedition and misappropriation of public funds. The judges dismissed the rebellion accusations issued by the prosecutor’s office, which could have seen them imprisoned for up to 25 years.
Eight other separatists were sentenced to between 9 and 12 years in prison for sedition, and some also for embezzlement of public funds. Among them are former Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell, the leaders of the powerful ANC and Omnium Cultural independence associations, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart and five former regional ministers.
The decision of the Supreme Court places the Catalan question at the center of the political debate less than a month away from the legislative elections of November 10th.
Speaking after the sentencing, Oriol Junqueras said that despite the heavy penalties imposed, the separatist movement would come back “even stronger”.
“To those whose only will is to do harm, we tell them that nothing is finished today, you have neither conquered nor convinced. We will come back and we will come back even stronger (…) Have no doubt, we will come back and we will win, ” he wrote in a letter to his supporters.
“One hundred years in prison in total. A barbarity… We have to react like never before, ” former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont tweeted, who fled in October 2017 to Belgium and is the subject of an arrest warrant in Spain.
Following the release of the sentence for the Catalan leaders, the Spanish court also issued a new international arrest warrant on Monday against Puigdemont.