MADRID (AP) — The Latest on the conviction of Catalan politicians and activists (all times local):
The former president of Spain’s Catalonia region says the lengthy prison sentences the country’s Supreme Court gave to 12 leaders of a push for independence are “unfair” and “inhumane.”
Carles Puigdemont delivered a statement from Brussels after the politicians and activists were convicted of sedition in Madrid and sentenced to nine to 13 years.
Puigdemont fled to Belgium in fall 2017 following the regional legislature’s ineffective declaration of independence and the Spanish government’s ousting of the regional Cabinet.
A Spanish judge on Monday issued an international arrest warrant for Puigdemont on possible charges of sedition and misuse of public funds.
Flanked by three other former members of the Catalan Cabinet, Puigdemont said Spain’s Nov. 10 general election was an opportunity to show the “dignity and firmness” of Catalan separatism.
Police have clashed at Barcelona’s airport with Catalans protesting the guilty verdict against 12 separatist leaders for their part in a 2017 failed secession bid.
Catalan police in riot gear used batons to drive back a crowd near the entrance to the subway inside the main terminal of Barcelona’s airport.
Protesters are gathering at the airport in large numbers and roads leading there are packed with traffic. Police have ordered the halting of the subway service on the line to the airport.
Thousands of angry protesters have marched and rallied in cities across the wealthy northeastern region. Others have blocked traffic on several highways.
Nine of the dozen leaders convicted on Monday received sentences of nine to 13 years.
Spain’s foreign minister says that the sentencing of a dozen pro-Catalan independence politicians and activists opens an opportunity to “normalize” the situation in the northeastern Spanish region.
Josep Borrell has told The Associated Press in Luxembourg that work should begin “for a normalization of the political social life in Spain and to heal the wounds of this Catalan society, but with full respect to the Spanish Constitution.”
Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief-elect, said Catalans are evenly divided between those who support and reject independence from Spain, and that the Catalan regional government needed to abide by the ruling and govern for all.
Borrell said that “I am as much as Catalan as anyone else,” adding that “there is no single constitution of Europe that provides the possibility of creating unilaterally the independence of a part of the territory.”
A Spanish Supreme Court judge has issued an international arrest warrant for fugitive ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont following the sentencing of 12 of his pro-Catalonia independence colleagues in Spain for their role in a 2017 secession push led by him.
Judge Pablo Llarena issued the request on charges of sedition and misuse of public funds, the same charges for which nine of the 12 received jail convictions Monday.
Puigdemont and several others fled to Belgium in October 2017 when they were summoned to appear before court to answer questions about the secession push and an illegal Oct. 1 independence referendum.
Spain issued a first warrant back in 2017 but later withdrew it after a German court ruled that Puigdemont couldn’t be extradited to Spain for rebellion, one of the initial charges.
Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, says that the sentences of a dozen Catalan separatists who led the independence push two years ago must be carried out.
Protests and roadblocks in Catalonia have followed Monday’s Supreme Court ruling, with the pro-independence leader of the wealthy northeastern region calling on Spanish authorities to grant “amnesty” to the 12 convicted and seven fugitive separatists.
In a live television appearance reading from a statement, Sánchez said that “abiding by the sentence means its mandatory compliance.”
Sánchez has warned that his caretaker government will be watching developments in Catalonia to respond “with firmness” and “proportionally” to any violations of the legal order.
The Socialist leader, who is trying to remain in power in a Nov. 10 election, also said that the sentence opened a “new era” in Catalonia that should leave aside “extremism” and foster “dialogue.”
Catalan regional president Quim Torra has urged Spain to “end repression” and grant “amnesty” to convicted and fugitive separatists.
Torra said Monday after the Supreme Court released the verdict that sentenced nine separatist leaders to nine to 13 years from their role in an illegal 2017 secession bid that he would ask for an urgent meeting with Spanish caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Torra said “We call for an end to repression, for the release of the political prisoners … for an amnesty that should mark an endpoint for all of those who have suffered reprisals.”
He adds: “We reaffirm our commitment…to move forward, with no excuses, on the path to the Catalan Republic.”
The central government has the power to grant pardons if the convicted ask for one. Several of the convicted separatists said before the verdict that they would not.
An amnesty would have to be granted by the national Parliament. That appears unlikely.
Soccer club Barcelona has criticized the Spanish Supreme Court’s conviction of 12 Catalan politicians and activists for their role in a 2017 secession attempt, saying “prison is not the solution.”
The Catalan club said in a statement that the resolution of the independence debate in Catalonia must come “exclusively from political dialogue.”
It called on “political leaders to lead a process of dialogue and negotiation,” and pave the way for the prisoners’ release.
Barcelona is one of Catalonia’s most cherished institutions. It has long had an ambiguous relationship with the independence movement with Catalan independence flags a regular feature at home games.
For years, separatists unfurled a massive banner reading “Catalonia is not Spain” at the Camp Nou Stadium.
Hundreds of students and civil servants have begun protesting in different parts of Barcelona following the sentencing of nine Catalan separatist leaders to prison.
Protesters blocked some roads in Barcelona, while civil servants gathered outside some government buildings.
“Today they have violated all their rights. It is horrible that Europe doesn’t act,” 60-year-old civil servant Deni Saball said while protesting in the street. “I don’t want to be European. I don’t want to be Spanish.”
Protests were also reported in other towns across the wealthy northeastern region.
The Supreme Court sentenced nine leaders to sentences from 9-13 years for sedition and misuse of public funds. Three more were given fines but not jail time.
Former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras says the region’s independence from Spain “is closer than ever.”
After being sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in an illegal 2017 secession attempt, Junqueras said “we Catalans do not have an alternative.”
The comments were carried by his Republican Left party after the sentence by the Supreme Court was released on Monday.
Former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain to Belgium along with several others following the failed secession bid, wrote on Twitter that he was appalled by the verdict.
“A total of 100 year of prison. How horrible. Now more than ever, we will be you and your families. For the future of our sons and daughters. For democracy. For Europe. For Catalonia,” he said.
Spain’s Supreme Court has convicted 12 former Catalan politicians and activists for their roles in the secession movement of 2017.
The court on Monday sentenced the former regional vice president, Oriol Junqueras, to 13 years for sedition and misuse of public funds.
The 12 were tried for their actions in a 2017 attempt by Catalonia to break away from Spain following an illegal independence referendum.
Grassroots pro-secession groups have previously said that if any of the defendants were found guilty they would organize protests and “peaceful civil disobedience.”
Spanish authorities have deployed hundreds of extra police to the region in anticipation of the ruling.