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Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesic has told acting Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez in a letter of his "genuine concern" over the "draconian sentences" for the Catalan pro-independence leaders following this year's Spanish Supreme Court trial. In the letter, reported by TV3 and shared by Catalan foreign minister Alfred Bosch, Mesic asserted that the 2017 Catalan referendum "was not legal in Spain" but by holding it, independence supporters "were simply expressing their opinion."

For this reason, he says that in "many countries" the Supreme Court sentences might be interpreted as "a punishment for support of a political option". Mesic, who was president of Croatia from 2000 to 2010, says that despite his reluctance to interfere in "internal affairs", he believes that the Catalan situation could have "repercussions".

"Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesić asks Pedro Sánchez by letter to end the respression against the independence movement. What more is needed before they understand?"— Alfred Bosch

"The motive for this letter is my genuine concern about the possible repercussions of further deterioration in Madrid-Barcelona relations, as it could have a negative impact not only on the vast majority of Spanish citizens, but also on the international positioning of your country," says Mesic in the letter.

Mesic announced in November that he would work to create a committee of political and social figures to support the Catalan political prisoners, sentenced to 9 to 13 years in jail after organizing the 2017 referendum. The former Croatian president met Catalan foreign minister Alfred Bosch last month.

Mesic has always stated that he is a supporter of dialogue between Catalonia and Spain. "I firmly believe that no one should be imprisoned for their views and this is the fundamental right of any European citizen," the former Croatian president told the Catalan News Agency in November.