Supreme Court denies release of Catalan political prisoners: pre-trial detention “doesn’t depend on political climate”

The Spanish court argues that “the distress of their families doesn’t provide sufficient grounds for their release”

MARIONA FERRER I FORNELLS

Once again, the criminal division of Spain’s Supreme Court has turned down a request filed by the legal counsel of Catalonia’s nine political prisoners (Josep Rull, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Sànchez, Carme Forcadell, Joaquim Forn, Dolors Bassa and Jordi Cuixart) asking for the release of their clients.

This time the Supreme Court argues that “the distress of their families […] does not provide sufficient grounds for the release of the defendants”. Furthermore, the statement stresses that the new “political climate” cannot be taken into consideration. Dolors Bassa’s request was based on the former Catalan minister’s decision “to end her political career for good” and the realisation that “the current political climate is conducive to a dialogue between the Catalan government and its Spanish counterpart”. The Supreme Court points out that “the pre-trial detention currently in place was not deemed appropriate in response to the political climate at the time; therefore, it will not be reviewed in the light of the new political context”. The Spanish court’s decision came in response to motions for the release of the prisoners filed in September, as well as appeals lodged against a July 26 ruling that had initially dimissed requests for their release. Specifically, former minister Joaquim Forn mentioned his mother’s poor health —as did Bassa, who was allowed to visit her mother in hospital after surgery—, while Carme Forcadell mentioned her grandson.

The court’s ruling claims that the motions filed by the defendants —based on their family situation— fail to counter “the flight risk” and the likelihood of reoffending that the examining magistrate, Pablo Llarena, had emphasised when he ordered that they be held on remand. The court stresses that “the aim of the proceedings and, in particular, of the precautionary measures adopted to that effect, aren’t diminished by the distress brought on their families by pre-trial detention”.

They will remain in prison during the trial

The Supreme Court has also ruled that the political prisoners will have to remain in prison during the trial. Some had argued that their right to a proper defence and a fair trial would be infringed upon, should they be kept in custody during the trial. However, the criminal division of Spain’s Supreme Court has ruled that “neither the material content of their right to a defence nor their right to a fair trial” are jeopardised by the conditions in which the trial will be held. “The dignity of the defendants, the quality of their meals and the standards of the facility where they will be held will be properly supervised by this court”, they remarked.

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