Nine Catalan pro-independence leaders have been convicted to 9 to 13 years in jail, guilty of sedition and some of them also misuse of funds.
Spain’s Supreme Court convicted former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras to 13 years behind bars, with also jailed former ministers Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa getting a 12-year sentence. They were all found guilty of sedition and misuse of funds for their role in the 2017 referendum push.
The former parliament speaker, Carme Forcadell, was sentenced to 11 years and a half for sedition. Former ministers Joaquim Forn and Josep Rull got 10 and a half years each for the same crime, with leading activists Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart being sentenced to 9 years each, also for sedition.
They are all also barred from office for as many years, and their joint sentence adds up 99.5 years in jail.
The Supreme Court has also found guilty the only three officials in the dock during the Catalan trial but not in provisional detention, but only for disobedience, which carries no imprisonment. Carles Mundó, Santi Vila and Meritxell Borràs got a 60,000-euro fine.
The sentences were lower than demanded by the prosecution which had sought up to 25 years behind bars for former Oriol Junqueras.
No defendant was found guilty of rebellion or belonging to a criminal organisation. All guilty verdicts were based on sedition, the misuse of public funds, or disobedience.
The 2017 Catalan independence drive attracted worldwide attention, triggered Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades and unnerved financial markets.
The main questions now are how the pro-independence camp will react to the verdicts – whether the promise of peaceful protests holds, and also how the reputation of both Spain and the independence movement could be affected.
The Spanish government circulated a video on social media ahead of the verdict on Monday morning. Acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted the video, with a message describing Spain as one of world’s ‘most free and safe’ countries, and a ‘consolidated democracy’.
The government has also said that it is ready to take direct control of Catalonia, as it did briefly in 2017, if leaders of the movement break the law.
The ruling is likely to colour a national election on 10 November, Spain’s fourth in four years, and it will influence the direction taken by the Catalan independence movement.