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It looked like they would have to go to jail, but in the end, it hasn't happened. Today was the expiry date for voluntary entry to prison - to begin serving sentences - for most of the right-wing extremists convicted of the assault on a Catalan cultural centre in Madrid, the Blanquerna centre and bookstore, which took place on Catalan National Day in 2013. But justice has frozen their entry into jail, despite having a final sentence since July last year. Specifically, Section 30 of the Provincial Court of Madrid, which tried the case, has called for a halt, pending the resolution of appeals made to the Constitutional Court and requests for pardons. One of the men convicted was already subject to a search and arrest warrant and a second has also fled, judicial sources have told ElNacional.cat.

According to these sources, 24 hours before the end of the ten-day period for voluntary entry into prison, the Provincial Court suspended the required entry. In the case of 10 of those convicted, this action has been taken while awaiting their appeal to be ruled on by the Constitutional Court. In the case of two others, it has also been put on hold while the Supreme Court resolves their request to be pardoned. One of the convicts already had a search and arrest order hanging over him on March 23rd, and now the section 30 court is to issue a further such arrest warrant against another of the men, who has also disappeared from the justice ministry's radar.

 

The Blanquerna Cultural Centre and Bookshop, attached to the Catalan government delegation in Madrid, was attacked during commemorations of the Diada, Catalan National Day, in 2013.    

Thus, they will continue to evade jail despite having a final ruling from the Supreme Court. Last July, the Supreme Court upheld their prison sentences, though it lowered them from a range of two years to nine months to two years and seven months in prison. The Constitutional Court removed the aggravating factor of ideological discrimination. The deadline for voluntary entry to jail passed today.

Able to campaign for election

Thus, members of the group will be able to participate in the campaign for the Madrid regional elections on May 4th. This is the case of Manuel Andrino, leader of the Falange, who will be at the top of the list for his party in the Madrid elections. He has been convicted for the Blanquerna assault and is currently being tried in the a Barcelona criminal court along with Pedro Pablo Peña, head of the far-right Alianza Nacional. In that case, prosecutors are calling for three years' imprisonment for Andrino for inciting hatred in his speech on October 12th, 2013 on Barcelona's Montjuïc mountain, a common gathering place for Spanish neo-fascists on the Spanish national holiday on October 12th. That day the Falange leader called on supporters to "kill for Spain."

His chequered past stretches even further. In 2005 he was also convicted of swindling an elderly woman in order to acquire her home. Years ago he was also arrested for an alleged attempted murder of a police officer.

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