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It’s ‘unthinkable & absurd’ to jail Catalan pro-independence leaders, former UN special rapporteur tells RT

It’s ‘unthinkable & absurd’ to jail Catalan pro-independence leaders, former UN special rapporteur tells RT
The prosecution of Catalan pro-independence politicians by Spain violates European law and is simply “absurd,” a former high-ranking democracy and human rights expert at the UN has told RT.

“Political prisoners in Spain… It’s absolutely unthinkable!” Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, who served as the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, said in an interview with Rafael Correa on RT Spanish.

He branded the jailing of the leaders of the Catalan independence movement “absurd,” especially since the “Catalans have been protesting for many years in a peaceful, democratic fashion.”

Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia voted in favor of independence in October 2017. Madrid called the vote illegal and sent in a massive police force to disrupt the referendum.

Chaotic scenes from the ground with officers in full riot gear beating civilians for merely voting, storming polling stations and snatching ballot boxes made the headlines back then, triggering widespread condemnation from international humanitarian organizations.

Following the voting-day crackdown, Spanish authorities detained a group of prominent Catalan politicians who had been involved in staging the referendum. Former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras and eight others were sentenced to between nine and 13 years in prison earlier this month.

Spain is now demanding the extradition of former regional president Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium shortly after the failed independence bid.

“Both Puigdemont and Junqueras were elected with a mandate to carry out this [exact] referendum,” de Zayas stressed.

So, criminally prosecuting someone for actions that were legitimized through a democratic election is … beyond all reason.

“It violates Article 2 of the [EU’s] Treaty of Lisbon, which says that such issues must be brought up before the European Commission. Yet, I don’t see any complaints coming from Berlin, Brussels or Copenhagen that declare: ‘Things like that shouldn’t happen in Europe.’”

Also on rt.com Puigdemont appears before Belgian authorities over extradition as Catalonia burns, general strike begins

The lengthy prison sentences for pro-independence politicians sparked peaceful protests in Barcelona, which has been marred by night-time rioting and clashes with police. The mass protests raged for several days in a row, culminating in a general strike last Friday, which attracted at least half a million supporters of independence.

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