October 14, 2019 / 9:49 AM / a month ago

Reaction to Spain's sentencing of Catalan separatist leaders

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition over their role in the region’s failed bid for independence in 2017.

Students sit at Plaza Universidad after a verdict in a trial over a banned independence referendum, in Barcelona, Spain October 14, 2019. REUTERS/Albert Gea

The three other defendants in the landmark ruling over a banned referendum and short-lived independence declaration were found guilty only of disobedience and not sentenced to prison.

Here are the main reactions:

CARLES PUIGDEMONT, FORMER HEAD OF CATALONIA’S REGIONAL GOVERNMENT:

“100 years in prison in total. An atrocity. Now more than ever ... It is time to react like never before. For the future of our sons and daughters. For democracy. For Europe. For Catalonia.”

ORIOL JUNQUERAS, FORMER DEPUTY LEADER OF THE CATALAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT, SENTENCED TO 13 YEARS IN PRISON

“With this ruling, they want to destroy lives, behead parties and its leaders, stop and end a political and democratic movement and silence a whole people that wants to express in the ballot box. Democracy in Spain today has fallen and its powers act with revenge because they do not understand justice, politics or democratic processes”

JOSE LUIS ABALOS, TOP RANKING OFFICIAL FROM SPAIN’S RULING SOCIALISTS

“The sentence must be carried out and complied with,” the acting public works minister told public broadcaster TVE. “In Catalonia, there is a need for clear and responsible leadership on behalf of separatists.”

PABLO IGLESIAS, LEADER OF FAR-LEFT UNIDAS PODEMOS PARTY:

“With regard to the sentence, it is clear that there is consensus in the court that there was no violence, something that was evident to everyone, including the greatest adversaries of independence,” he wrote on Twitter.

He added: “But beyond the strictly legal debates, this sentence will go down in the history of Spain as a symbol of how not to deal with political conflicts in a democracy.”

PABLO CASADO, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION PEOPLE’S PARTY:

“Pedro Sanchez must affirm today that he will not pardon those convicted ... We will be at the side of the government to preserve public order and to avoid violent attitudes in the streets.”

ROGER TORRENT, HEAD OF THE CATALAN REGIONAL PARLIAMENT:

“Today we are all convicted, not just 12 people. This sentence is an attack on democracy and the rights of all citizens. They imprison the speaker of parliament, the vice-president, the government councillors and civil society leaders, but also our freedoms,” he said on Twitter.

“We will turn sadness into energy. Without violence, we defend fundamental rights and freedoms. As we have always done, we will find the strength and intelligence necessary to resist the worst attacks and build scenarios of future and hope.”

RAUL ROMEVA, CATALONIA’S FORMER FOREIGN AFFAIRS HEAD, SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS IN PRISON:

“No sentence will change the political aspirations of millions of citizens, neither this sentence nor those to come.”

JOSEP RULL, FORMER REGIONAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILLOR, SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS AND SIX MONTHS IN PRISON:

“If they had judged us on the facts, they would have acquitted us. Because they have judged ideas, they have condemned us. Condemning us, they have condemned the 2.5 million Catalans who voted on October 1 in one of the most extraordinary exercises of democracy that Europe has seen in the 21st century.”

ASSEMBLEA NACIONAL CATALANA, GRASSROOTS PRO-INDEPENDENCE GROUP:

“Faced with a sentence that convicts the exercise of fundamental rights, we respond as a people! Stop, protest, take to the streets,” the organisation wrote on Twitter. “Against the sentence, independence!”

COMMITTEES FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE REPUBLIC (CDR), A GRASSROOTS SEPARATIST MOVEMENT:

“It is time to rise up against the authoritarian fascism of the Spanish state and its accomplices. It is time for the #PopularRevolt. Let us respond with disobedience, popular power and Republic!”

PERE ARAGONES, NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF POLITICAL PARTY CATALONIA’S REPUBLICAN LEFT:

“INJUSTICE. They have been to more than 99 years in prison, and we have all been sentenced. Democracy has died today in Spain, as (former Catalan parliament speaker) @ForcadellCarme says, let’s take care of ourselves. We will turn anger into strength, conviction and serenity,” he said on Twitter.

Reporting by Ashifa Kassam, Jose Elías Rodríguez, Belen Carreno, Isla Binnie, Elena Rodriguez; Editing by Ingrid Melander, Raissa Kasolowsky and Alison Williams

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