Jailed Catalan leader says Spain wants to 'behead' separatism

Jailed Catalan leader says Spain wants to
# 11 September 2019 10:49 (UTC +04:00)

Catalonia’s highest-profile jailed separatist leader accused Spain of trying to behead the secessionist movement with a trial on the region’s failed independence bid, adding that another independence referendum was still a possibility, APA reports citing Reuters.

Oriol Junqueras, the former Catalan deputy head of government who is jailed outside Barcelona pending a ruling on his role in the 2017’s secessionist bid, answered questions from Reuters ahead of an annual pro-independence march on Wednesday that is expected to reflect the strength and unity of the separatist movement.

“I am convinced that I am innocent and that we have not committed any crime,” said Junqueras, 50, leader of the left-wing Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party.

“What the (Spanish) state pretends with this (upcoming) sentence is to behead a peaceful movement and, as it cannot detain two million citizens, it locks us up,” he said in written responses conveyed by his legal team.

Junqueras is allowed to use a computer without internet access.

He is one of the 12 Catalan leaders - nine of them jailed - facing charges of rebellion, sedition and misappropriation of public funds for the independence referendum and the botched independence declaration that followed it.

Prosecutors are seeking sentences of 7 to 25 years, the latter only for Junqueras.

A ruling by Spain’s Supreme Court is expected soon, likely in October. Spanish authorities have repeatedly said the trial was fair and respects the rule of law.

As they have done in massive marches since 2012, tens of thousands of separatists are expected to demonstrate on Wednesday in Barcelona on Catalonia’s annual commemorative day.