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Spain's ambassador to Croatia, Alonso Dezcallar, appeared yesterday at an event on contemporary Catalan poetry organised by the Catalan government's delegation to the country on the occasion of Catalonia's national day. When the floor was opened to the audience for comments or questions, the ambassador spoke to argue against the remarks made by one of the event's invited speakers, the writer and secretary of PEN Catalonia, Carles Torner.

Torner had denounced the fact that "political prisoners" Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart have spent almost two years locked in "completely disproportionate" provisional detention for having lead peaceful protests in the streets. He noted that they are likely to be sentenced within weeks to years in prison for having led a non-violent pro-independence movement.

Sitting on the front row of the audience, next to the Catalan delegate to the Balkans, Eric Hauck, Dezcallar wanted to offer, he said, a different perspective on events. He rejected the terms "political prisoners", saying they are instead politicians in prison; he said they are accused of very serious charges, including violating the Constitution; that the Spanish justice system is transparent and independent and international standards confirm this; and that everyone must obey the law. "The end cannot justify the means", he warned: "Breaking the law has consequences".

Torner replied that Sànchez and Cuixart aren't politicians, rather social leaders, and said his view coincided with reports from Amnesty International, PEN International and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, among others.

The other speaker besides Torner was and Tonko Maroević, a poet, historian and translator, whilst the president of PEN Croatia, Tomica Bajsić, acted as moderator.


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