Home News Spain approves amnesty for participants in 2017 Catalan independence referendum

Spain approves amnesty for participants in 2017 Catalan independence referendum


Spain’s parliament approved a landmark law Thursday to pardon Catalan separatists took part in the illegal independence referendum in October 2017the suspended sentence could apply to hundreds of people, including Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont He has been in self-imposed exile for seven years.

The measure has been resisted by opposition parties and sparked widespread anger and mass demonstrations in cities across Spain in recent months, with opponents denouncing it as a ruse for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to stay in power. Sanchez reached the amnesty deal with Catalan separatist party United Catalonia after failing to win a majority in last July’s election.

As Sanchez voted Thursday, shouts of “traitor” were heard from several lawmakers in parliament.

Spanish judges now have two months to enforce the new law, although opponents have vowed to continue to block it. Some argue that the measure violates the constitutional principle of equality because it is unfair to others facing legal action.

Madrid regional president Isabel Ayuso said in a radio interview on Thursday that her government would take steps to hinder the implementation of the new law and appeal to the Constitutional Court.

Judges may also bring legal challenges if they deem the universal legal pardon discriminatory, said Pablo Simon, a political scientist at Carlos III University in Madrid.

“Each judge has different criteria,” Simon said. He also said they could ask the European Court of Justice to intervene “if they believe that granting a general legal amnesty is discriminatory,” in which case “the law could be paralyzed.”

The amnesty law applies to people involved in Catalonia’s independence movement, which reached its peak in October 2017 when the region’s separatist government led by Puigdemont ignored a Spanish court order and went ahead with a referendum.

Many voters were injured by violent police intervention, and after the vote the Spanish government declared independence and launched a crackdown. Disband the Catalan government and exercise direct control. Nine political leaders Sentenced to prison The charges included sedition, and Puigdemont fled across the border to France and then to Belgium, narrowly escaping arrest.

While the Sanchez government has pardoned jailed political leaders and activists, the amnesty goes a step further. It will dismiss prosecutions against people facing charges ranging from misusing public funds to finance the 2017 referendum; to civil disobedience — for example, teachers using schools as polling stations; and to resisting authorities by participating in riots that prevented Spanish law enforcement from gathering evidence.

The only exceptions to the new amnesty law are in terrorism-related cases.

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