Jailed Catalan separatists walk free after pardon

Barcelona, Spain, Jun 23 (EFE).- Nine Catalan separatists walked free from prison on Wednesday after their sentences for their role in a banned independence referendum in 2017 were commuted by the Spanish government.

The politicians and activists were officially pardoned by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party-led coalition on Tuesday, over three years into their sentences of between nine and 13 years for sedition and misuse of public funds, including pretrial detention.

Former vice-president of Catalonia Oriol Junqueras and six other separatists left their prison together on Wednesday morning and posed for the media with pro-independence Catalan flags and a placard that read: “Freedom for Catalonia.”

“Until the day of victory, we will continue to work with everyone, without excluding anyone, to make the dream of a Catalan republic a reality,” Junqueras, the leader of the left-wing ERC party, said after leaving prison.

The pardons issued by the Sanchez government are partial and conditional and although the prison sentences have been commuted, the nine activists and politicians remain banned from public office.

Opponents of Sanchez have accused him of capitulating to parties who want to break Catalonia away from Spain.

Sanchez said the pardons were in the interest of “coexistence and concord.”

“We will face challenges on the way, but it is worth trying,” he added Tuesday.

The conservative Popular Party called on the Socialist Party leader to resign over the matter.

The nine Catalan separatists were jailed for their involvement in the banned 2017 independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence.

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