Madrid. Nine Catalan separatists were released from prison on Wednesday after being pardoned by the Spanish government. The group took to the streets to cheer for their supporters and announced that they would continue to fight for Catalonia’s independence from Spain.
Conservative opposition leader Pablo Casado called in parliament for the resignation of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who announced a pardon without consulting lawmakers.
“We know that today, with our release from prison, nothing is over,” former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras said in an address in front of the prison. “Prison doesn’t scare us, it reinforces our thoughts.”
With a banner and flag for freedom
Those released carried a small banner reading “Freedom for Catalonia” and a Catalan flag. He turned to his supporters and loved ones in Catalan.
In addition to Junqueras, five other former cabinet members, a former speaker of the regional parliament and two independence activists were released. He spent two and a half to four years in jail.
The men were convicted of secessionist aspirations and misappropriation of public funds in connection with an independence referendum in 2017. Even after his pardon, he is not allowed to hold any public office temporarily.
Most Spaniards Are Against Pardon
In the elections, most Spaniards spoke out against the pardon, and there was criticism from the conservative opposition and many leftists. Sanchez defended the decision, saying he wanted to usher in a new era of dialogue and build bridges.
On Wednesday, his office announced a meeting for the coming week between the head of government and the Catalan regional president, Pere Aragonese.
The pardon was sharply criticized in Parliament. Opposition leader Casado called the prime minister’s decision wrong and called it “an unfortunate day for Spain’s democratic history”. The fate of the country is now in the hands of the separatists.
Allegations of lying against Prime Minister Sanchez
Casado accused Sanchez of lying because the socialist had promised when he took office that he would not make any concessions to the separatists.
Catalan separatist lawmakers urged the government to take the so-called Scottish route – a reference to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum authorized by the UK government. Voters then voted to remain in the UK.
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