High-Ranking regional politicians from Catalunya are in the process of being moved to prisons nearer their homes as a step towards a meeting of minds between the separatists and the national government.
Spanish president Pedro Sánchez has so far arranged for former deputy leader of Catalunya, Oriol Junqueras and Parliamentary spokesman Raúl Romeva, plus the leaders of the Catalunya National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart respectively, to be moved to jails in the province of Barcelona so that their families can visit them.
Until now, they were based in the prisons in Estremera and Soto del Real (Greater Madrid region), but they will shortly be admitted to Lledoners penitentiary centre in Sant Joan de Vilatorrada (Barcelona province).
Ex-Parliamentary spokeswoman Carme Forcadell and former regional minister Dolors Bassa, who are currently in the Alcalá Meco women’s prison in Madrid, will be moved to the Puig de les Basses jail in Figueres (Girona province).
The jailed Catalunya politicians have been clamouring to be moved nearer home for some time, and once socialist president Pedro Sánchez took up the office a month ago and agreed to ‘dialogue’ with the separatist faction, they found a listening ear in their new national leader.
Upon consulting with Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, who is responsible for their being held in custody, Llarena admitted there was no legal reason why the politicians had to be kept in Madrid and could not be transferred to correction centres in their home region.
In an interview with the BBC at the beginning of the year, Junqueras said being in prison for ‘allowing citizens to vote’ was ‘demoralising’, and that Spanish jails were ‘freezing cold at night’.
All politicians involved in the disputed independence referendum of October 1 are either in exile abroad to avoid arrest – including the CUP’s Anna Gabriel, who has just obtained a five-year residence permit in Switzerland, and ex-education minister Clara Ponsatí who is enjoying overwhelming support from her Scottish neighbours and leaders after returning to her old job as economics professor at St Andrew’s University – or are in prison.
The former right-wing PP national government said any move towards a region’s becoming an independent nation, even a non-binding referendum, went against the Spanish Constitution and was, by default, a criminal offence, and has refused to discuss the issue, preferring instead to place it in the hands of the courts.
Dissenters, whether or not they agree with the idea of Catalunya’s becoming a separate country, say the Constitution needs to be updated since its text remains fundamentally the same since it was rubber-stamped in December 1978.