Vice president of the European Parliament, Heidi Hautala, co-president of the Greens/EFA group, Ska Keller and more than thirty other MEPs are among the 500 signatories to a manifesto in support of the former speaker of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell. The signatories, from 25 different countries, call for her "immediate release".
Forcadell is currently in Mas d'Enric prison, having been held in pretrial detention since March this year facing a charge of rebellion for her role in the run-up to last year's referendum.
The manifesto (below), spearheaded by former Catalan Parliament speakers Joan Rigol, Ernest Benach and Núria de Gispert, enjoys the support of 36 current members of the European Parliament from countries including Germany, France, the UK, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Estonia, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Spain.
Just last week, current Catalan speaker Roger Torrent met with Hautala and Keller in the European Parliament to explain the situation of the political prisoners and exiles to them as well as the need to solve the political conflict in Catalonia democratically.
Among the signatories are the presiding officer of the Welsh Assembly, Elin Jones, and the speakers of the Flemish Parliament, Jan Peumans, the Corsican Assembly, Jean-Guy Talamoni, the Faroe Islands Parliament, Páll á Reynatúgvu, the Basque Parliament Bakartxo Tejeria, and former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament Tricia Marwick.
The politicians who have given their support to the manifesto denounce her imprisonment for "not having prevented debates and parliamentary proceedings related to the political project of creating a Catalan Republic, as pushed for by the majority of the chamber". They say that she "acted in accordance with the rules and procedures of the chamber, and fulfilled [her] role" and that she upheld "the principles of parliamentary autonomy and the separation of powers, as well as the elected representatives' right to freedom of speech and their right of initiative".
"The use of the criminal justice system as an instrument for oppressing a parliament and its activities is wholly incompatible with the principles that govern and uphold a parliamentary democracy", they write, before saying they "demand that she be released immediately".
As well as the speaker's release, they "call for the resolution of these institutional and political conflicts through non-criminal channels".
The manifesto was presented publicly in an event this afternoon at the Catalan Parliament paying homage to the body's former speaker. The ceremony was attended by the former speakers behind the manifesto, the current speaker, Roger Torrent, and the presiding officer of the Welsh Assembly, Elin Jones, who is to visit Forcadell in prison tomorrow.
The list of signatories is as follows: