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Catalan pro-independence leader Jordi Sànchez, sentenced to 9 years' prison and a ban from office holding by the Spanish Supreme Court for his participation in the independence process, has this morning filed a suit against the Kingdom of Spain at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Sànchez, who in 2017 was president of the largest sovereignist NGO, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and spent three years and eight months in jail until the Spanish cabinet approved a partial pardon for him in June, has lodged the complaint against Spanish state "for what has been a continuum of violations of fundamental rights."

"What I hope is that the Kingdom of Spain will receive an unequivocal correction from the highest European body in the field of human rights," said Sànchez, who announced the presentation of the case coinciding with the four-year anniversary of the mass protests on Barcelona's Rambla Catalunya against police searches at the headquarters of the Catalan economy ministry on September 20th, 2017. His participation in that episode was key to the accusation of sedition against both him and the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart.

Heavy rain this afternoon in Barcelona prevented the presentation from being held in front of the former headquarters of the Catalan department where the rally took place four years ago. Instead, the event moved indoors to a nearby hotel, where Sànchez appeared accompanied by current ANC president Elisenda Paluzie, who underlined that the rights that were violated in his case affect freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Sànchez also denounced ideological persecution and referred in particular to the complaint against the investigating judge, Pablo Llarena, for lack of impartiality. The suit also asserts violation of the right to be tried in the court pre-established by law.


“They acted against me and the rest of the social and political leaders, aware that they were acting against basic elements of human rights,” he affirmed.

The former ANC president admitted that he has no expectation of personal compensation for what he has undergone, as he will not recover the three years he had to endure in prison, but he showed confidence that "never again" will "any Catalan citizen have the insecurity, the uncertainty, that exercising the right to free assembly, the freedom of expression and ideological freedom could be the grounds for a criminal conviction".

Sànchez, who expressed his confidence that the EU human rights court will rule in his favour and that it will "do so soon," stated that behind the searches of the Catalan ministerial headquarters on that day four years ago - which included episodes as unusual as the fact that police weapons were left inside the open Civil Guard vehicles in the street - there was an attempt "to set a trap to provoke violence that would derail the referendum."

The pro-independence leader's complaint includes the report of the Council of Europe's Assembly of Parliamentarians calling for the release of the Catalan prisoners and the reform of the crime of sedition. With regard to this point, Sànchez asserted that the Spanish government's pardons were very clearly intended to take the wind out of the announcement of the Council of Europe's ruling, with which they were almost simultaneous.


In the main image, the former president of the ANC Jordi Sànchez and the current president of the entity, Elisenda Paluzie / Sergi Alcàzar