Spain’s Supreme Court has ordered for the nine pro-independence leaders jailed in Catalan prisons to be transferred to Madrid for the last week of January, in preparation for their trial.
It is still uncertain when the hearings will commence but the judges’ ruling on Thursday is a sign that the sessions will start soon.
The nine jailed leaders, including the former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras, were originally waiting for the trial in Madrid prisons but were transferred to Catalan centers last July.
Yet the hearings will be in the Supreme Court – all efforts from officials to be tried in Catalonia failed – so they will be held in centres of the Madrid region, and moved every day to and from the court.
The Supreme Court specifically requested for the Spanish home affairs ministry to take the necessary steps for the transfer, ‘with the conditions to respect [the prisoners’] dignity’ and with ‘security’.
The sessions are expected to start between the end of January and beginning of February.
In total, nine people are in pre-trial jail for their role in Catalonia’s push for independence, including six former ministers, two activists, and the former parliament speaker that allowed a vote on independence to take place.
The public prosecutor has requested a joint total 177 years prison sentence, including 25 years for Oriol Junqueras, the highest individual proposed sentence.
The sensitive trial will start more than a year after Catalan leaders in the northeastern region attempted to break away from Spain in October 2017 by staging the referendum despite a court ban.
They subsequently proclaimed independence but Spain’s then conservative government moved swiftly to depose the Catalan executive, dissolve the regional parliament and call snap local elections in December.