The nine independence leaders convicted in the trial of the process and pardoned on Tuesday by the Government, they are already at liberty. Dozens of people, led by the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, gathered this Wednesday at the gates of the Lledoners, Puig de les Basses and Wad Ras prisons to greet the six former councilors, two representatives of the secessionist entities and a former president of the Parliament who have benefited from the grace measure. Oriol Junqueras and the rest of the men have left the Lledoners prison, in Manresa (Barcelona), under a light rain and displaying a banner with the message “Freedom for Catalunya” (in English, “Freedom for Catalonia”) and a flag estelada [enseña soberanista]. In their speeches they wanted to make it clear that their struggle for independence will continue and that they will not stop until they achieve amnesty and secession. “Make no mistake, the repression has not defeated us and will not defeat us,” said the former leader of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and beneficiary of forgiveness, Jordi Sànchez.
Photogallery: The exit of the ‘procés’ prisoners
The first to leave was the former president of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell, an intern in the Wad Ras prison in Barcelona. Her husband accompanied her and she has met in the street with her successor in the Chamber, Laura Borràs; the secretary of the Parlament table and deputy of Junts, Aurora Madaula, and the republican deputies Marta Vilalta and Alba Vergès, among others. Amid shouts of “Amnesty, amnesty”, she thanked those who received her. “Do not suffer, we will get amnesty for all exiles and reprisals [en referencia a los huidos de la justicia y aquellos inmersos en procesos judiciales relacionados con el procés]”, Said Forcadell.
“It is a day of joy for us and our families, but it is not a complete joy, because what we want is that we can all be at home. Today is a step on the road; If the independence movement had not won election after election, without the judicial victories in Europe and without citizen mobilization, we would not be here ”, continued the former president of the Parliament, visibly moved.
Shortly after, the seven prisoners were released from the Lledoners center, who had previously been visited by the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès. The former councilors came out to take the photo with which they wanted to celebrate the release: Joaquim Forn, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Turull have unfolded a white cloth with the legend “Freedom for Catalonia” while Josep Rull taught a starry, together with Oriol Junqueras and Jordi Sànchez. It is one of the banners used by secessionist activists during the events held at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, with the intention of internationalizing their aspirations.
All the prisoners have begun by thanking the demonstrations of support from hundreds of people who crowded into the prisons where they were serving their sentences for sedition (and in some cases embezzlement) or have sent them letters during these more than three and a half years in prison. . The first to speak was Jordi Cuixart. From a platform installed next to the prison and before representatives of the Junts, ERC, the CUP and the ANC and some ordinary citizens, the still president of Òmnium has dedicated his first words to former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who fled in Belgium. “There is no pardon to silence the people of Catalonia, let no one make a mistake. If we are out, it is because the State has not been able to keep us in prison anymore due to European pressure ”, he said.
Sànchez, who continued in the turn of the speeches, has deepened: “Our departure is a tribute to all the people who are in exile [en referencia a los huidos en Bélgica y Suiza]”. “We are all conspired for immediate victory, that the kingdom of Spain be condemned for having violated the rights and freedoms of this country,” he added, to later insist that there will be no “silence” in exchange for the pardon. Those gathered have responded with shouts of “Independence” and “Out, out, Spanish justice.”
The former Minister of Territory Josep Rull and the Minister of the Interior Joaquim Forn have wanted to insist on the idea that their convictions come out intact after going through prison. “We will continue working for independence, for the end of repression and amnesty,” Forn said. Rull has ironized with the supposed legal protection to be able to defend his independence ideology, but that, on the contrary, they are told that “they have no right to achieve it.” “We tell them that we will continue fighting to achieve it and we will do it,” he added.
For his part, the exporter of the Executive Jordi Turull has insisted on his defense of the illegal referendum of self-determination of October 1, 2017, which the justice declared unconstitutional. “We have been granted a conditional, reviewable, partial pardon. Let them listen well: our commitment to finish what started on October 1 is not conditional, reviewable or partial ”, he added. Raül Romeva has expressed: “The republic is not an option, it is a necessity.”
For his part, the ERC leader, Oriol Junqueras, has stated: “We are nine more people who have joined to continue the work for the freedom of all the people of this country, who continue to work for the amnesty of the 3,000 reprisals and the people who are threatened by the judicial processes that have taken place and by having ”. In that figure of “3,000 reprisals” the independence movement includes about fifty people still immersed in judicial processes linked to the process. With the rest, up to 3,000, they actually refer, according to Òmnium’s calculations, to anyone who at some point in the last four years has been arrested (for example for altercations in the street after the Supreme Court ruling), although later not has come to be charged, the several hundred mayors who were accused in their day of collaborating with the 1-O (although almost all of the cases were shelved a long time ago) and the “more than 1,000 injured” (a figure never proven) that, according to the organizers of the illegal referendum, occurred during the day due to police charges. At around 12:17 pm, in Puig de les Basses (Figueres, Girona), former councilor Dolors Bassa was the last to be released.
The release date of the prisoners was not clear and ended up being confused with a previous prison permit that they had requested to be able to spend Sant Joan with their families. The decision of the Executive chaired by Pedro Sánchez to also forgive the crime of embezzlement simplified the calculation of penalties and the Supreme Court decided to speed up internal procedures. The State official newsletter has published this Wednesday the decree of pardon, and the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court has asked the three centers around 10.30 a.m. to release the independence leaders.
Both the Catalan Executive and the Parliament will offer an official reception for those pardoned both at the Palau and at the headquarters of the Catalan Chamber in the coming days. There was speculation at first about doing it this Wednesday, but it has finally been decided to delay it to allow the independence leaders to be with their families at the Sant Joan Day festival, one of the most traditional festivals in Catalonia.