The Spanish Supreme Court has ordered that all Catalonia independence cases be handed over to it from the National Tribunal to avoid “discrepancies.”
The National Tribunal is handling the cases of seven former members of Catalonia’s cabinet; the former vice president of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras; pro-independence activist, Jordi Sanchez; and former president of the Catalan parliament, Jordi Cuixart.
All 10 are being held without bail, with nine accused of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement, while Sanchez is charged with sedition.
Thousands of Catalans protested in Barcelona over the weekend demanding their release calling the 10 political prisoners.
Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena gave National Tribunal Judge Carmen Lamela five days to turn over all information regarding the 10 to assess if the Supreme Court move to take over the cases is legal. The high court is currently handling the accusations of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement against five former Catalan Parliament members who have all been released on bail.
Llarena’s decision comes after several differences emerged between how judges on the Supreme Court and the National Tribunal were handling the cases that consist of the same accusations for the same events, the Oct. 1 independence referendum, and the Oct. 27 parliamentary independence declaration.
Llarena allowed the Catalan parliament members to be questioned, then released on bail, after the motion was requested by their lawyers. Lamela, on the other hand, denied the request and has repeatedly denied the possibility of bail for the National Tribunal cases. Lamela has also ordered the ex-ministers to pay more than US$7.2 million for what the tribunal considers an illegal independence referendum on Oct. 1.
The move to place all Catalan independence cases under Supreme Court jurisdiction also comes due to the fact that all are being accused of sedition and rebellion, charges that are considered, under Clause 472 of the penal code, to be group activities, and so can’t be tried individually.
If carried out the Supreme Court would eventually assume responsibility of the possible cases of ex-President Carles Puigdemont and his four cabinet members who are in Belgium awaiting a Brussels judge’s decision on possible extradition to Spain.
Benet Salellas from the Popular Unity Candidate party, a leftist independence party said that he visited the 10 imprisoned Catalans and they are all "in high spirits, politically determined and calm.” Oriol Junqueras has announced he will run in the Dec. 21 elections called by Madrid after imposing direct rule on the region and dissolving parliament.