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Catalan pro-independence leaders Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, all serving long prison sentences for sedition, have filed an appeal with Spain's Constitutional Court (CC), requesting the suspension of the sentences that keep them incarcerated in Lledoners jail as well as their "immediate release", using the arguments made by the Brussels Court of Appeal in its decision last week to refuse Spain's demand for the extradition of their exiled Catalan colleague, Lluís Puig.

The petition presented to the CC by lawyer Jordi Pina recalls that the Belgian court concluded that “there are good reasons to believe that, if the execution of the European Arrest Warrant is accepted, the fundamental rights [of Puig] would be harmed” since there is no “explicit legal basis” for the Supreme Court to be the court that should try him.

The three pro-independence leaders argue that the Belgian judiciary accepted that the Supreme Court violated the fundamental right to be tried by the judge predetermined by law, and also acknowledged the findings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which called for the prisoners' release.

The submission to the Spanish court also recalls that the ruling of the Belgian appeals chamber accepts the “high risk of violation of the right to the presumption of innocence”, which the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had noted, and echoes the frequent comments presuming the guilt of the defendents, made by members of the Spanish judiciary, political officials and members of the Spanish government.

Rectify the breaches

Given this conclusion, it calls on the CC to "rectify the serious breaches of fundamental rights" suffered by the three imprisoned pro-independence leaders, including numerous leaks to the media and publication of unauthorised material during the 2019 trial against them in the Supreme Court.

The document considers that the immediate consequence of the violations of rights it sets out must be a declaration of nullity of the verdicts given on October 14th 2019 against the leaders of the independence process, and thus it claims that, until a decision is made in this regard, it should agree to the “immediate release” of the three leaders, via a suspension of the effects of the sentence. At this point the submission notes that the three jailed pro-independence leaders have already served part of the sentence and that the court has taken two years to respond to previous appeals, which makes them useless.

In addition, the three prisoners emphasize that this suspension measure would not imply any serious disturbance of any constitutionally protected interest now would it affect the fundamental rights or freedoms of anyone else. Jordi Sànchez was sentenced by the Supreme Court to 9 years in prison and disqualification for a crime of sedition, while Turull was sentenced to 12 years and Rull to 10 years and six months, in all cases for the roles played in the organization of the 2017 Catalan referendum and independence process.


In the main image, Josep Rull, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull in Madrid's Congress of Deputies where they were sworn in as MPs after being elected in May 2019 / Europa Press

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