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A prison surveillance judge has decided to allow Catalan political prisoners Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa their present Level 3 open prison regime until a final ruling is given on the prosecution's appeal against the Level 3 classification that was granted to all nine of the convicted pro-independence leaders at the end of January.

Last Monday, the day after the Catalan parliamentary elections, public prosecutors lodged an appeal against the prisoners' leave regime, which currently allows them to be outside the prison during the day, and overnight at weekends. The prosecution service had requested that, until the appeal is resolved, all of the political prisoners should be returned to prison and only permitted leave under the periodical permits that are part of a standard Level 2 regime.

In a ruling that was made public this Tuesday, the Catalan prison surveillance court number 1 says that the interim measures requested by prosecutors "may affect the principle of legality, since the suspension [of the open regime] when an appeal has been lodged is not expressly regulated" and especially, "taking into account that the application of this suspension could be a restriction of rights as it could lead to the immediate re-entry into prison of Carme Forcadell Lluís". For that reason, says the judge, it is necessary to wait until the merits of the matter and any relevant appeals are resolved.

Tale of two judges

The judge's final decision on whether or not to repeal the Level 3 regime is pending. Last year, the prison surveillance judge allowed Bassa and Forcadell to remain on the looser regime from July until December while awaiting the decision on this.

Meanwhile, another judge, who reviewed the Level 3 status of the other seven pro-independence prisoners, serving sentences in Lledoners prison, accepted the interim measures now being requested by the prosecutors, and the seven prisoners spent the second half of 2020 in a standard lock-up regime. It remains to be seen what will happen this time. The resolution on Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, in the hands of penitentiary surveillance judge number 5, has yet to arrive.