Court snubs Prosecutor, greenlights 3-day prison leave for Jordi Cuixart

The judge argues it is unreasonable to expect the Òmnium Cultural leader to join a programme “to change his political views”

A surveillance court has rejected the arguments of the Prosecutor. On Tuesday Catalonia’s High Court (TSJC) announced that the surveillance judge had granted the three-day leave that Òmnium Cultural president Jordi Cuixart had requested with the Prosecutor’s opposition. The judge states that the grassroots independence leader “has served a quarter of his prison sentence as of 14 January 2020”; that is, before the agreement of the penitentiary service that endorsed Cuixart’s application, and that he “has shown good conduct”. The judge points out that these are the two legal requirements that must be met before ordinary leave can be granted to a convict and the Lledoners prison authorities believe Cuixart meets them both.

When Cuixart was first issued a shorter, two-day leave —which does not require the court’s permission, merely authorisation from the prison service— on 16 January, the Prosecutor had no say in the matter. However, this time Cuixart had requested a three-day leave, so now the Prosecutor was allowed to intervene and he asked the judge to turn down Cuixart’s request. His main argument was that Cuixart does not realise “the gravity” of the crime for which he was sentenced to nine years in prison and that he has shown “no regret”.

Furthermore, the Prosecutor also mentioned that the Òmnium leader hasn’t been following a specific treatment programme for his crime. In her statement, judge Maria Jesús Arnau argues that, according to the law, a convict is not expected to “show regret or declare himself guilty” and she adds that Cuixart cannot be expected to follow a specific programme “to change his political views”. On this point Arnau remarks that Cuixart’s statement in court (“We will do it again”) “expresses a particular political view”. Like the report written by the prison psychologist, the judge believes that Cuixart “was not referring to a violent uprising”, which he was found guilty of by Spain’s Supreme Court, but that “the motto refers to his determination to keep demanding the right to decide over Catalonia’s situation in a peaceful, non-violent manner”. That is why she criticises the Prosecutor’s argument, which is based exclusively on the defendant’s statement in court and the title of the book that Cuixart has recently published, without “delving deeper in the content of the book and the content of the penitentiary facility’s psychological report”.

Under no obligation to show regret

In addition, the judge emphasises that convicts are not expected to show regret in order to be granted leave. In her statement, she writes that Cuixart “acknowledges the offence, but disagrees with the charges pressed. He shows no regret and claims he is innocent, which is —undoubtedly— a legitimate notion, given that prison legislation does not impose on convicts the obligation to show regret or to declare themselves guilty and to renounce their declaration of innocence”.

Maria Jesús Arnau goes on to rebuff the Prosecutor’s request no to grant Cuixart prison leave for three days. “This is governed by penitentiary surveillance laws, so it is unreasonable to extend the conviction to an inmate’s prison itinerary, blocking and impeding situations where he may be granted leave ordinarily, together with other penitentiary benefits and progressive changes to his classification, which the Prosecutor seems to forget”, says the judge in what constitutes an all-out rebuff of the Prosecutor’s arguments.

Quoting the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case against the Catalan independence leaders, the judge notes that “it does not state that the convicts must wait until they have served half their sentence before they can be moved to a lower security category” and, therefore, “ordinary leave may be granted unconditionally and without limitations”.

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