Spain’s supreme court has announced its verdict in the trial of 12 Catalan separatist leaders over their alleged roles in the region’s failed attempt for independence two years ago. Here are some of the key figures in the push for independence:
The former Catalan vice-president and leader of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) party was convicted of sedition and misuse of public funds on Monday and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was also banned from holding public office for 13 years. He had been in pre-trial custody since November 2017.
Junqueras, 49, was a history professor before going into politics and eventually rising to the top of the ERC in 2011.
Since entering prison, he has taken a more considered approach to the path towards independence than the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, mirroring the growing divisions between the two main pro-independence Catalan parties.
“You need to have the courage to speak clearly if you’re going to move ahead,” he told Catalan TV last September. “You have to admit where we are and where we’d like to be. You have to start building again from there and learning from the mistakes that have been made.”
Junqueras has also alluded on more than one occasion to his decision to remain in Catalonia while his former boss fled into self-imposed exile in Belgium.
“I stayed in Catalonia because of the sense of responsibility I feel towards my fellow citizens,” he said in a recent interview with Le Figaro. “Socrates, Seneca and Cicero had the opportunity to flee but didn’t take it. I find that civic and ethical responsibility very impressive.”
Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, AKA ‘Los Jordis’
Sànchez, a regional MP and former president of the influential grassroots Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and Cuixart, the leader of the Òmnium Cultural civil society group, were found guilty of sedition and given nine-year sentences on Monday.
Arrested in October 2017 as part of an investigation into alleged sedition in the run-up to the independence referendum a fortnight earlier, they are the Catalan leaders who spent the most time in pre-trial detention.
Sànchez, 54, and Cuixart, 43, were accused of using huge demonstrations to try to stop Spanish police officers from following a judge’s orders to halt the referendum, which had already been suspended by the country’s constitutional court.
Amnesty International has described the charges against them as unjustified. “Although calling protests to obstruct legitimate police operations can – if proof is produced of their commission – constitute a public order offence, it does not constitute a serious crime such as sedition or rebellion,” Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty’s Europe director, said in February last year.
Notably absent from the trial was Puigdemont, the architect of the region’s failed independence bid.
He fled Catalonia for Belgium days after the unilateral declaration of independence. He is currently attempting to lead a government in exile – or “council of the republic” – from his new home in the Belgian municipality of Waterloo.
A Spanish judge dropped an international arrest warrant issued for Puigdemont, 56, after a German court said it would only extradite him over alleged misuse of public funds rather than the more serious charge of rebellion.
He faces immediate arrest on charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds should he return to Spain.
A staunch and longstanding independence campaigner, Puigdemont served as Catalan president from January 2016 to October 2017, when he was sacked by the Spanish government for his independence bid.
He studied Catalan philology at university before becoming a journalist on the Girona-based daily El Punt and helping to launch Catalonia Today, an English-language paper.