Spain’s Public Prosecutor has filed a fresh appeal that seeks to reverse the court’s decision allowing the Catalan political prisoners to have a job or do voluntary work outside the prison. This time the appeal has been lodged with Barcelona’s Audiencia court against the benefits that former Catalan Interior Minister Joaquim Forn has been granted in accordance with Article 100.2 of the Prison Service’s Rules and Regulations, as is the case with the other Catalan political prisoners.
Prison leave and the work release programme are granted by the prison board and validated by a court of penitentiary surveillance. The Prosecutor objected to Forn’s initial prison leave with the court that handles the Lledoners inmates, but the appeal was dismissed. That is why now the Public Prosecutor has taken the matter up with the Audiencia de Barcelona.
In its statement, the Prosecutor’s Office argues that Article 100.2 provides a legal loophole to grant Joaquim Forn greater benefits than he is entitled to as a level 2 inmate and insists that, by law, Article 100.2 can only be invoked in exceptional cases. “All nine inmates [convicted in the case of Catalonia’s independence referendum] have been granted this benefit, which proves that Article 100.2 is being applied as a matter of course, not exceptionally”. In Forn’s case, they claim his work release benefit “means he is effectively being treated as a level 3 inmate”, but “on the sly”, something he is not entitled to at this point in his sentence.
Currently Joaquim Forn is allowed to spend up to twelve and a half hours a day on weekdays working as a lawyer for Mediapro. On this point the Prosecutor argues that there is no connection between Forn’s job and the crimes he was convicted of, which were to do with public order. As he had argued before the court of penitentiary surveillance, the Prosecutor believes that Forn should go on a programme that teaches him “to respect the law” and that one can only legitimately pursue one’s goals provided it is done “in a manner that is enshrined by law”.
So far every appeal lodged by the Prosecutor to prevent the Catalan political prisoners from having jobs or doing voluntary work outside prison has been unsuccessful. When the Spanish government declared the state of emergency and imposed restrictions on mobility [due to the Covid-19 crisis], their leave was suspended for several weeks, but they have progressively been allowed to go out again. It remains to be seen what Barcelona’s Audiencia court will rule in Forn’s case.