As Spain pushed toward imposing direct rule over Catalonia, two leading Catalan independence leaders were ordered jailed by the Audiencia Nacional or Spanish National Court Monday.
Arrested and held without bail on charges of sedition are Catalan National Assembly leader Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who leads the Omnium Cultural.
The pair are under investigation for their alleged role in inciting several days of protests against Spain ahead of the Oct. 1 independence referendum in Catalonia. According to a Spanish magistrate, both men refused to address the court when charged.
Both men face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted.
Along with Cuixart and Sanchez, two senior Catalan law enforcement officials, Major Josep Lluis Trapero and Lieutenant Teresa Laplana, regional police officials, were jailed. Both Trapero and Laplana were later released.
Described as a purely political move by pro-Catalan independence lawmakers and separatists, Catalan officials blasted the detainments.
“The state is playing at provocation,” Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said.
Jordi Bosch, secretary general of Omnium Cultural joined in directing criticism at Madrid by encouraging a day of protest, which occurred on Tuesday evening in Barcelona after the Spanish Constitutional Court unsurprisingly deemed Catalonia’s independence vote illegal.
Thousands of Catalans reportedly occupied a main road in the region’s capital to demand the political prisoner’s release.
“We are facing an executive power in the state that uses the judiciary branch to block the legislative,” Turull said after the judicial decision was announced.
Reacting angrily to the arrests, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont responded on Twitter, cryptically recalling the days of the late dictator General Francisco Franco in which Catalans faced harsh rule from Madrid.
Spain jails Catalonia’s civil society leaders for organising peaceful demonstrations. Sadly, we have political prisoners again
— Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) October 16, 2017
Madrid has warned Catalonia it will impose a partial suspension of home rule unless Generalitat de Catalunya President Carles Puigdemont fully explains parliamentary action following the Oct. 1 plebiscite.
In a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Puigdemont stated his desire for dialogue, but did not explain whether Catalan independence had been declared.
[El Pais] [AP via McClatchy] [Photo courtesy ACN via El Mon]