The jailed Catalan pro-independence activists, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, have been given permission by Lledoners prison to leave the institution for a few days each week to carry out voluntary or paid work.
This follows the terms of the prison regime under which they are serving nine years for sedition, having been sentenced by Spain’s Supreme Court on 14 October 2019 for their roles in the build up to the Catalan independence referendum of October 2017.
As Sànchez and Cuixart have now served a quarter of their sentences, they are allowed to apply for temporary release in order to work. Both men had spent 728 days in custody prior to sentencing.
Sànchez and Cuixart are the heads of two of the most influential Catalan pro-independence organisations, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural.
Sànchez will be allowed out of prison for up to three days a week, between Monday and Friday, and up to 11 hours a day to do voluntary work. Cuixart could leave for five days a week, for nine and a half hours a day to do paid and voluntary work.
The two men will have to return to prison to sleep on the days they are allowed out. To maintain their privacy, it will not be revealed the days that they have been granted temporary release, nor where or for whom they work.
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Whilst the decision is effective immediately, it still has to be confirmed by a supervising judge. The public prosecutor can appeal against the decision, with Spain’s National Court having the final word if an appeal is lodged.
Under the terms of their prison regime, the men can also apply for 36 days leave each year. Each of the activist leaders was granted 48 hours leave in January, after serving a quarter of their sentences.
Last week Spain’s prosecutor opposed 72 hours prison leave that had been granted to Cuixart, arguing that he had not acknowledged the seriousness of the offence for which he had been convicted, nor shown any remorse.
Jordi Sànchez is the former Catalan National Assembly (ANC) grassroots leader. He led a protest outside the Catalan economy department on 20 September 2017, as a response to Spanish police raids against the referendum organisation. No-one was injured, but the protest was considered a ‘tumultuous’ one, for which Sànchez was charged with sedition, and then rebellion. The grassroots leader maintains that all pro-independence demonstrations over that period were peaceful.
Sànchez, who has been in prison since 16 October 2017, stepped down as ANC leader and was elected as Catalan MP for Carles Puigdemont’s party. Unsuccessful attempts were made to allow him to be sworn in as Catalan president following the December 2017 election, and he was also suspended as MP. Following the April 2019 Spanish elections vote, was allowed to take up his seat in the Spanish Congress but was then suspended days later.
Sànchez spent 728 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing on 14 October 2019. He was found guilty of sedition and is currently serving 9 years in jail.
Jordi Cuixart is the Òmnium Cultural grassroots leader. He is the only jailed Catalan leader who has never held a public political post. During the 2017 referendum, as president of Òmnium – another large pro-independence organisation – he faced the same charges as Jordi Sànchez. Both were the first to be sent to precautionary jail in October 2017.
Unlike Sànchez, however, he did not make the move to institutional politics in the December 2017 Catalan election and remained at the head of Òmnium. This organisation has dramatically increased its membership to 170,000.
Cuixart spent 728 days in preventive detention prior to sentencing. He was found guilty of sedition on 14 October 2019 and is also currently serving 9 years in jail.
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