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Spain jails Catalan separatist leaders for independence bid

Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to prison terms of between nine and 13 years for their role in a failed 2017 independence bid.

The long-awaited verdicts were less than those demanded by the prosecution which had sought up to 25 years behind bars for former Catalan Vice President  Oriol Junqueras on grounds of rebellion. 

Spain has been bracing for weeks for the court’s ruling, with tension mounting steadily and police sending reinforcements to Catalonia where separatists have pledged a mass response of civil disobedience.

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium to avoid prosecution, denounced the sentences as an “outrage.”

“100 years in all. An outrage. Now more than ever, by your side and those of your families. It is time to react as never before,” he tweeted.

The 12 defendants, most of them members of the former Catalan government, were put on trial in February for their role in the banned October 1, 2017 referendum and the short-lived independence declaration that followed it.

“The Supreme Court condemns Oriol Junqueras to 13 years of prison… on grounds of sedition and the misuse of public funds,” the judges wrote in their ruling.

In Puigdemont’s absence, Junqueras served as the main defendant.

In a letter to his supporters released on Monday, Junqueras said the story was far from over.

“To those who are only driven by the will to do harm, we say to them that nothing ends today, you neither win nor convince,” he wrote.  (AFP)

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