Spain’s Public Prosecutor continues to oppose the leave granted to the Catalan political prisoners that allows them to have jobs outside prison. On Tuesday the Prosecutor’s Office filed an appeal with Barcelona’s Audiencia Court to prevent Jordi Sànchez from engaging in voluntary work outside the facility where he is serving his prison sentence. Not long ago the court of penitentiary supervision ruled that Sànchez was entitled to daytime leave in accordance with Article 100.2 of the Prison Service Rules and Regulations. Even though the former Catalan National Assembly leader is currently on lockdown in Catalonia’s Lledoners prison, before the COVID-19 outbreak Sànchez had begun to do voluntary work for an NGO dedicated to preventing social exclusion. Other Catalan political prisoners, such as Òmnium Cultural president Jordi Cuixart and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, were also working outside on weekdays.
The Catalan News Agency reports that in the appeal the Prosecutor insists that Jordi Sànchez is de facto being treated as a level 3 inmate, even though he is classed as level 2. The Prosecutor’s Office also claims that in order to allow a prisoner to do any voluntary work, this must necessarily bear some connection with the crimes he was convicted for. The statement points out that “it is praiseworthy to spend some of one’s free time doing community work, but when this becomes an alternative to staying in prison, the choice is obvious and lacks any merit”.
The Prosecutor argues that any community work which Sànchez might be eligible for should necessarily be related to the rule of law. The appeal claims that doing voluntary work “will not be a positive influence on the convict’s shortcomings”. Besides, it emphasises that Sànchez was sentenced to 9 years in prison for “a serious crime”. The Prosecutor concludes that “if an inmate won’t acknowledge his crimes and the error of his ways, social rehabilitation is an unlikely outcome”. In his statement the Public Prosecutor is at pains to deny any intention of changing Sànchez’s political views, contrary to the interpretation made by the court of penitentiary supervision in the judgement it issued following earlier appeals lodged by the Prosecutor. Indeed, Spain’s Public Prosecutor had already filed an appeal to remove the benefits granted to Jordi Sànchez by the Lledoners Prison Board. However, the judge was not convinced and upheld the Board’s decision.
The same situation as Jordi Cuixart
This is not the first time that the Prosecutor’s Office appeals against prison privileges granted as per Article 100.2 It did so in the case of Jordi Cuixart, whose benefits were also endorsed by the court of penitentiary supervision. The arguments which the Prosecutor used in Cuixart’s case were the same: the convict shows no remorse for his crimes and he is being granted privileges that would correspond to a level 2 inmate.
Sànchez and Cuixart’s demands have been endorsed by a court, unlike the rest of the Catalan political prisoners, who are still waiting for a ruling from the court of penitentiary supervision. Now it is up to Barcelona’s Audiencia Court to issue a definitive judgement as to whether Sànchez and Cuixart are entitled to have a job or do voluntary work outside prison.