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When Oriol Junqueras took his place in the Catalan Parliament commission into the 2017 decision by Madrid to take direct control of Catalonia and its effects, before him in the front row were two senior deputies from Ciudadanos, Lorena Roldán and Carlos Carrizosa. It was the first time they had attended the commission, and the first time they'd seen the vice-president in person after he's spent the last two years in prison. Despite not intending to, taking their seats, they caught each others' eyes and seemed to exchanged automatic greetings.

Next to Junqueras sat his successor, Pere Aragonès, as other current ministers would sit next to their counterparts during the day. The prisoners had arrived around half an hour earlier. First came Dolors Bassa from Puig de les Basses prison, followed minutes later by Junqueras and ministers Jordi TurullRaül RomevaJosep Rull and Quim Forn from Lledoners. All had travelled in unmarked vehicles.

 

The hearings started at 9am and would last into the evening. The politicians appeared in protocol order. First, Junqueras. Journalists and photographers were everywhere, in the room and outside, as well as parliamentary deputies and members of the government, which didn't hold its normal weekly meeting today to be able to attend. Alongside each prisoner, five guests, including relatives, their closest collaborators and friends. The police, unarmed within the Parliament, went almost unnoticed, although the corridors the prisoners were to use were blocked off to press and guests.

Unlike many of their colleagues, at no point did president Quim Torra nor Parliament speaker Roger Torrent enter the commission. They did, that said, greet the prisoners when they arrived and accompanied them to the rooms set up for them to wait in, where they were able to follow their colleagues' remarks via video.

Ciudadanos

Of the parties opposed to independence, only Ciudadanos had any representatives in the room. Whilst nobody from PSC or PP was present, at least at first a large delegation from the centre-right party was. Junqueras referred to them indirectly in his opening remarks, saying that those who have been the loudest opponents of independence have been the ones who lost the most votes around Spain.

 

When the political parties had their turn to speak, Ciudadanos' Roldán expressed regret that Junqueras hadn't taken the opportunity to apologise and asked if he could look in the eyes Catalans in difficult circumstances and tell them that he had "spent their money". She asked if he regrets "the harm and suffering you've caused all Catalans".

Having gone beyond her 5-minute time limit, Roldán then announced her group would leave the commission "which should never have been formed". She then stood up with her fellow deputies and walked out, without waiting to hear Junqueras' answers to their questions.

 

 

As they packed up, Junqueras asked "aren't you going to wait for the answer?" With the Ciudadanos members continuing to leave, he joked: "Shame, now we'd started to talk." Later, during his appearance, Turull also referred to Ciudadanos, calling them "cowards" for their actions and describing them as "very brave in front of the cameras."

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