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'Nobody is above the law': Spanish PM calls for 'new chapter' in Catalonia based on dialogue

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'Nobody is above the law': Spanish PM calls for 'new chapter' in Catalonia based on dialogue
Pedro Sanchez wants to turn the page on Catalonia. Photo: AFP
13:24 CEST+02:00
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Monday it was time to "turn the page" in relations with Catalonia following the sentencing of 12 of its leaders over their role in a failed 2017 independence bid.

"Nobody is above the law. In a democracy like Spain's nobody is subject to trial for his or her ideas but rather for criminal conduct as provided by the law," he said in English and Spanish after Spain's Supreme Court issued its long-awaited verdicts.

"Todays' decision confirms the defeat of a movement that failed to gain internal support and international recognition. Following the Supreme Court decision we need to turn the page based on peaceful co-existence in Catalonia through dialogue," he added.

"We can start a new chapter for a modern, plural and tolerant Catalonia taking its rightful place in Spain."

The Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders, most of them members of the former Catalan government, to prison terms of between nine and 13 years for sedition for their role in a failed 2017 independence bid which included a secession referendum that was banned by Madrid.

Some of them have been in pre-trial detention for close to two years.   

Activists from the region's two biggest grassroots pro-independence groups, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, have urged followers to rally in the evening while the radical CDR (Committees for the Defence of the Republic) have also promised "surprises".

Sanchez said the government would "work in the coming days to guarantee public order and protect our democratic laws as it has always done, responding proportionally to any violations of the law.

"The government will continue to work to repair the fracture created by the separatist movement," he added.

Spain chose monday morning to launch a new international PR campaign emphasizing Spain's democratic credentials. 

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