A provisional decision was made on Wednesday to categorise the nine jailed Catalan leaders as ‘Medium’ inmates, meaning the prisoners will be able to apply for certain privileges only after serving a quarter of their sentences.
The nine Catalan leaders were sentenced by the Spanish Supreme Court on 14 October to between 9 and 13 years in jail, guilty of sedition and some of them also for the misuse of funds.
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Former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras was sentenced to 13 years behind bars, with former Catalan ministers Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa getting 12-year sentences. 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 Catalan activists Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart being sentenced to 9 years each, also for sedition.
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The Spanish penal system is made up of three prison categories, High, Medium, and Low, with the option of conditional release, and inmates are categorised depending on the seriousness of the offence, their level of intent, and their risk of harming others.
Wednesday morning’s provisional decision has been to categorise all the nine inmates as Medium.
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This means the prisoners will be able to apply for certain privileges only after serving a quarter of their sentences. Privileges could include 36 days leave from prison every year, although such a decision can always be challenged by the prosecutor.
Another possibility is for Medium-category inmates to find a job to enable leave from prison after serving a quarter of their sentences. The law allows for prisoners to leave prison for a few hours to work, although as the leaders have been barred from public office, any work would have to be with private organisations.
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The Catalan activist leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart could become the first of the prisoners to be able to apply for their category to be lowered.
Sànchez and Cuixart, who were both sentenced to 9 years in jail for sedition, have already spent over two years in preventive detention, which means they will have already served a quarter of their sentence by the end of January 2020.
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Former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras was sentenced to 13 years in jail after spending slightly less time in preventive detention than the Jordis. He will not be able to apply for his category to be lowered until February 2021.
When it comes to applying for any sort of privilege, a number of factors will be taken into consideration. A key one is the inmate accepting their guilt and showing signs of remorse, while all the nine leaders continue to insist that they are not guilty as charged.
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