Court grants Prosecutor’s request, revokes Catalan political prisoners’ open prison regime

Carme Forcadell is spared because her case is being handled by a different court

Catalonia’s 5th Court of penitentiary surveillance has granted the Prosecutor’s request and suspended the level 3 prison status of five of the Catalan political prisoners, effective immediate: Raül Romeva, Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. The Prosecutor’s Office for the Barcelona province filed their appeal on Tuesday morning aiming to strip six of the Catalan leaders of their level 3 status with immediate effect. Level 3 inmates are placed in an open prison regime which means they are only expected back in jail to sleep from Monday to Thursday. The Catalan political prisoners had only been moved up to level 3 on July 14.

Specifically, the Barcelona Prosecutor lodged an appeal against Oriol Junqueras, Carme Forcadell, Raül Romeva, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. So far Jordi Turull and Josep Rull’s status has not been contested, nor has Dolors Bassas’ —who is an inmate at the Puig de les Basses facility in Girona—. The judge did not issue a judgement in Carme Forcadell’s case because the former Speaker of the Catalan parliament does no fall within the same jurisdiction as the other Catalan prisoners.

The Prosecutor claims that being classed as level 3 inmates, in some cases before having served a quarter of their sentence and shortly after being classed into level 2, might send “a message of impunity”. All six appeals are virtually identical and they reiterate earlier arguments. The Prosecutor argues that the prisoners were first granted leave in January and February by invoking article 100.2 of the Prison Service Rules and Regulations, shortly after being classed as level 2 inmates and before some of them had served a quarter of their sentence, which “is unusual for such major crimes and severe sentences”. Furthermore, some of the prisoners saw their daily leave hours extended “for no obvious reason”. “Only six months after being classed into level 2, they have been upgraded to level 3, which —far from serving the purpose of the sentences imposed— creates a feeling of total impunity in the inmate and society at large”, the appeal claims.

Incompatible progression

The Prosecutor states that such a fast progression to level 3 is “at odds” with the penalty’s purpose of retribution and general and special prevention, as well as the aim to reeducate and re-socialise. In fact, he argues that all the prisoners are guaranteed social reinsertion because prior to the facts they had a job, a family and a stable social environment. That’s why now the penalty aims to prevent and “must constitute a socially useful means to intimidate the criminal, seek retribution for their crimes and instil in the perpetrator the feeling that his actions had harmful consequences”. “Effective internment is the only way to persuade the criminal that he cannot abuse his former powers to turn his will into law”, he adds.

The Prosecutor also believes that the penalty imposed seeks to make the convicts hope to become and be able to live as law-abiding individuals and he states that none of the Catalan prisoners have come to grips with the fact that the actions they were convicted of were criminal. In fact, the Prosecutor goes on to assert that their “treatment has not evolved sufficiently” to enjoy certain penitentiary benefits and he claims that none of them have taken part in group or individual therapy to work on their crimes and “the identified deficits”. The only treatment they have sought, according to the Prosecutor, was regular outings thanks to Article 100.2, which in Forcadell’s case have already been suspended by Madrid’s Supreme Court.

Following the judgement issued on Thursday last week by the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor’s move suggests that the Catalan political prisoners will be stripped of their level 3 benefits before the weekend. By invoking section 5 of the Fifth Additional Provision of the Law of the Judiciary [LOPJ in Spanish], the Supreme Court ruled that an appeal by the Prosecutor would suffice to suspend any benefits that involved the Catalan prisoners’ release.

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