At least 25,000 people, according to figures from the Spanish National Police, took to the streets of Madrid this Sunday to demand that the Spanish government not pardon the nine politicians imprisoned for holding a referendum on the independence of Catalonia in 2017. Sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison, now President Pedro Sánchez values acquitting them, claiming to have the support of the international community.
The possibility that the Spanish Government, chaired by the socialist Pedro Sánchez, pardons the nine Catalan independence leaders in prison, confronts those who support the grace measure in favor of dialogue with Catalonia and those who consider that it would yield to those who seek divide Spain.
Thousands of citizens – the majority of conservative ideology – came out to protest this June 13 in the central Plaza Colón in Madrid against the possible acquittal of politicians sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison for promoting the independence referendum in Catalonia in 2017, despite the state ban.
“We must stop this now because for forgiveness you have to show contrition, and the separatists will not show it,” said Carlos Bandecha, a 47-year-old businessman who participated in the rally in which many protesters waved Spanish flags against sedition.
In an interview with the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia, the first vice president and minister of the Spanish Presidency, Carmen Calvo, gave the clearest indication so far that the pardons to the independentistas are “close”.
Some 25,000 people gather in the Plaza Colón against the pardons of the independence prisoners, half of which in 2019 in the same placehttps://t.co/pO80kPD8hv
– String SER (@La_SER) June 13, 2021
The government coalition between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the left-wing formation Podemos has shown that it is in favor of the pardon, contrary to the critical voices within the socialists themselves, the conservative opposition – right and far right – as well as the Justice of the country. All oppose pardons.
Leading figures from the political right and the centrist Citizens movement also participated in the demonstrations this Sunday.
“The pardons are, in the first place, a betrayal of all the Catalans who suffered the separatist coup of 2017 and who were left at the mercy of separatism. It is also an act of treason towards all Spaniards who respect the law and the Constitution”, Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right Vox party, told the press.
According to the Municipal Police of Madrid, around 126,000 people participated in the protest, while the National Police placed the figure at another much lower, at 25,000.
The Spanish Justice opposes the departure of the independentistas
It’s not just citizens and some political parties, the country’s Supreme Court indicated last month in a non-binding report that it opposes possible government pardons for Catalan leaders.
This court was the same one that in October 2019 condemned those involved in the sovereignty attempt, for organizing an unauthorized referendum and issuing a unilateral declaration of independence that was ultimately failed and had a short duration.
Although, neither the protests of society or the words of the right and extreme right stop for now the idea of President Pedro Sánchez to forgive the leaders of the so-called ‘procés’ (‘process’). Even knowing that it could be very unfavorable, the Government affirms that this decision has the broad support of the international community.
Three of the twelve Catalan politicians tried were convicted of disobedience, but not imprisoned, while nine were sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison for crimes of sedition, embezzlement and disobedience, among others.
Including Oriol Junqueras, the highest-ranking politician to be tried in the absence of the former president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont, whom the German justice refused to extradite to Spain, considering the rebellion charge attributed against him inadmissible. European Justice granted Junqueras in 2019 the statement that he should have been able to use his immunity as a MEP, without affirming his release from prison.
The Spanish Prosecutor’s Office is also against the pardon of the independentistas, as it indicates that it would breach conditions such as the necessary repentance. Several of the condemned insist that they would resume their plans in favor of the independence of Catalonia, while another part of society considers them “political prisoners”.
For decades, the issue has bitterly divided Spaniards and Catalans. Around 63% of citizens oppose the granting of pardons, 25% support it and around 6% are indifferent, according to a poll published this Sunday by the digital medium Nius Diario, cited by Reuters. Media that belongs to Mediaset España.
With Reuters and EFE