Madrid to pardon Catalan pro-independence leaders on Tuesday, Spanish PM confirms

1 month ago 9

The Spanish government plans to pardon Catalan independence leaders on Tuesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said. Nine politicians and activists were jailed for sedition over the failed 2017 independence bid.

The move, actively rumored over the past few weeks, was confirmed by Sanchez on Monday, who announced the pardon would come the next day. The pardons are needed to promote national unity, the PM stressed, brushing off the concerns about the controversial move that were voiced by his opponents.

“Confrontation doesn’t serve to solve any problem,” the PM stated.

To reach an agreement, someone must make the first step. The Spanish government will make that first step now.

The looming pardons have not exactly been popular with the Spaniards – recent polls have shown some 60% of the country’s citizens oppose the measure. Right-wing politicians have been particularly hostile, accusing the government of being too soft on the separatists and therefore promoting secession instead of quashing it.

“Sanchez is planning pardons to legitimize an ongoing crime … a historic error that won’t solve anything, only to keep his government from going under,” head of the right-wing People’s Party and opposition leader Pablo Casado has said.

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People demonstrate at Colon Square in Madrid, Spain on June 13, 2021. Tens of thousands gather in Madrid to protest plans to pardon jailed Catalan independence leaders (VIDEOS)

Last week, tens of thousands gathered in Madrid to protest the government’s plans. The activists rejected the proposed pardons and even urged Sanchez to resign altogether over the ill-received move.

Nine Catalan pro-independence leaders, politicians, and activists were jailed in October 2019. They had been found guilty of sedition for organizing the unauthorized independence referendum back in 2017 and issuing a short-lived declaration of independence. Three more Catalan politicians were found guilty of disobedience towards the central government, but avoided a jail term.

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