With the trial against the Catalan political leaders having entered the deliberation stage prior to the judges delivering their verdict, Amnesty International (AI) has once again called for the former president of the Catalan National Assembly, Jordi Sànchez, and the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart to be released from prison. In a press release, AI declared that "It is time to review their status as being held on remand and release them forthwith". They went on to call for the status of the other pro-independence leaders to also be reviewed.
It is not the first time that Amnesty International has demanded the "immediate" release of the two grassroots leaders. On this occasion, the NGO has sent a request to the Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office in the form of a letter in which it, once again, insists that the Jordis be released, while criticising the prosecutor for opposing the move.
In its statement, Amnesty International referred to rulings by the Supreme Court on 11 April and 14 May of this year in which it cites the trial as a "crucial factor" in its decision not to grant Jordi Sànchez, in particular, his freedom, emphasising the fact that his imprisonment was essentially to guarantee, "the defendant’s presence during the trial". Likewise, on 7 May Spain’s Constitutional Court dismissed Jordi Cuixart's appeal by asserting that the specific reason for him being held on remand was, "to guarantee the defendant’s presence during the trial".
As a result of this ongoing situation, the organization warns that, "according to international human rights standards, the longer defendants are held on remand, the greater the need to undertake a rigorous investigation to determine whether it is still necessary and proportionate". In addition, Amnesty International goes on to say that, although the protests on 20 and 21 September 2017 were liable to "criminal prosecution", the authorities' response "must not be an excessive and disproportionate restriction of human rights, such as the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly". The organization also calls into question the charges of rebellion and sedition.