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Spain tweaks draft Catalan amnesty law to include terrorism charges

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Spain tweaks draft Catalan amnesty law to include terrorism charges
Ministers who are part of Spain's new governing left-wing coalition. The draft amnesty law, which has yet to be approved by parliament. (Photo by Thomas COEX / AFP)

Spain's ruling Socialists and Catalan separatists reached a deal Tuesday to amend a planned amnesty law that was pledged by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to secure another term in office, including a controversial clause relating to terrorism.

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The changes will offer further protection to the separatists involved in the botched 2017 Catalan independence bid, notably Carles Puigdemont, head of the hard-line separatist JxCat party who was Catalan regional leader at the time.

The draft amnesty law, which has yet to be approved by parliament, covers all events related to the Catalan independence drive, from 2012 to the present day, including a symbolic vote held in 2014 and the 2017 referendum which was marred by violence.

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Sánchez agreed to the amnesty in exchange for crucial parliamentary support from JxCat and its more moderate separatist counterpart ERC in key November vote to reappoint him as premier at the head of a left-wing minority government.

Justice Minister Félix Bolaños told a news conference the government had agreed to two technical amendments with the "parliamentary groups which support the passage of the amnesty law".

Under the agreement the crime of terrorism will only be applied to those covered by the amnesty law "if it relates to a serious violation of human rights," he said.

READ MORE: Catalan separatists call for Spain's amnesty to pardon acts of terrorism

Puigdemont fled to Belgium in late 2017 to avoid prosecution over the failed independence bid but the amnesty will allow him to return home.

He is facing possible terrorism charges over his suspected links to the Democratic Tsunamic protest group which was active in 2019 following the sentencing of nine Catalan leader to lengthy jail terms over their roles in the 2017 referendum. They were later pardoned.

The group blocked key highways and attempted to shut down Barcelona airport, Spain's second busiest.

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