'An outrage': Catalonia and the world reacts as separatist leaders handed jail terms

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'An outrage': Catalonia and the world reacts as separatist leaders handed jail terms
Women hold a Catalan pro-independence "Estelada" flag in Barcelona after the verdict was announced. Photo: AFP

Protests were immediately staged across Catalonia as Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders to prison terms of between nine and 13 years for sedition for their role in a failed independence bid in 2017.


The long-awaited verdicts were less than those demanded by the prosecutionwhich had sought up to 25 years behind bars for former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras on grounds of rebellion.   

Spain has been bracing for weeks for the court's ruling, with tensionmounting steadily and police sending reinforcements to Catalonia where separatists have pledged a mass response of civil disobedience.

Former Catalan regional Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain after a warrant was issued for his arrest and is currently living in exile in Belgium, called the sentences an "outrage."

"100 years in all. An outrage. Now more than ever, by your side and thoseof your families. It is time to react as never before," tweeted Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium to avoid prosecution.

Former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, who was sentenced to 13 years in jail for his role in Catalonia's failed independence push, warned Monday that the separatist movement will "come back even stronger."

"To those who are only driven by the will to do harm, we say to them thatnothing ends today, you neither win nor convince...we will come back even stronger. We will come back and win," he wrote in a letter to his supporters from prison published by his ERC party.

The current speaker in the Catalan regional government, Roger Torrent, also posted a message on social media. “Today we have all been convicted, not just 12 people."

In a communique Barcelona en Comú, the group led by Barcelona’s mayor, Ada Colau, expressed its indigation at what it called the “unjust sentences” and called for a united response on the part of Catalan political and citizens’ organisations.

Even Barça footall club were quick to condemn the sentence.

“In the same way that the preventive prison sentence didn’t help to resolve the conflict, neither will the prison sentence given today, because prison is not the solution,” said a statement from the club and posted on Twitter. “The resolution of the conflict in Catalonia must come exclusively from political dialogue.”


Protests were staged across Catalonia after the verdicts were announced with activists from the region's two biggest grassroots pro-independence groups, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, urging followers to rally in the evening.


The separatist movement is hoping the guilty verdicts will unite their divided ranks and bring supporters onto the streets.   

"It is time to rise up against the authoritarian fascism of the Spanish state and its accomplices," tweeted the radical CDR, whose activists briefly blocked Barcelona's Sants station on Sunday and cut traffic on one of its main

"It is time for the #PopularRevolt."   

"Democratic Tsunami", a newly formed group set up to coordinate the response, called on demonstrators to meet in Barcelona's Plaza Cataluna Monday afternoon, while the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, the region's two biggest grassroots pro-independence groups, have called an evening rally.

In the coming days, demonstrators will march from five towns towards Barcelona where they will congregate on Friday, when a general strike has been called.

There was outrage expressed from political leaders outside of Catalonia, notably Scotland which shares an independence struggle and has long shown solidarty with Catalonia

Nicola Sturgeon spoke out against the verdict: “Any political system that leads to such a dreadful outcome needs urgent change.”


While Scottish MP for Dunfermline & West Fife branded the verdict “a dark day for democracy”.

Clare Daly, an MEP from the Republic of Ireland was among those to call the sentence “shameful”.



Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek minister of finance tweeted: "I have no right to comment on Catalan independence. It is for the Catalans to decide. BUT, the rest of us must rise up against politicians being sentenced to long prison stretches in the heart of Europe for pursuing political agendas mandated by voters."


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