Spain’s Supreme Court has revoked the ‘low category’ awarded by prison authorities to nine Catalan political prisoners, thus canceling the penitentiary privileges that allowed them daytime and weekend leaves. Condemned for the crime of sedition and sentenced to serve between 9 and 13 years in prison for their role in the 2017 independence referendum, the nine political leaders and activists were granted the most lenient penitentiary category last summer.
Until now, two of the inmates, former parliament speaker Carme Forcadell and former work minister Dolors Bassa, had been enjoying the ‘low category’ status, the most beneficial one, including being able to spend weekends at home and to work or volunteer outside prison some hours on weekdays. They were granted this status in July by the Catalan government, the administration in charge of penitentiary centers in Catalonia.
The other seven leaders – Oriol Junqueras, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, Joaquim Forn and Raül Romeva – were also granted this right, but they could only enjoy it barely two weeks. In late July, Spain’s public prosecutor appealed the decision, arguing it was creating “a sense of impunity.”
While the courts were deliberating on the matter – with the ultimate decision made by the Supreme Court on Friday –, a Catalan penitentiary court decided to automatically suspend the ‘low category’ status for the seven male imprisoned officials, while another one decided to keep it for the two female ones, Forcadell and Bassa.
Spain’s Supreme Court also made clear that the political prisoners have been removed the ‘low category’ status, and also the possibility to use the article 100.2 of Spain’s penitentiary court, granting regular daytime leaves to work or volunteer as long as it helps with their reintegration even if they are in the ‘medium category’ status.
The magistrates argued that they all have to remain in the ‘medium category’ – the ordinary one – because it is “premature” that they are granted the maximum privileges. They also revoked the application of 100.2 on the grounds that their activities outside the prisons “are lacking connection with a process of reintegration.”