Spain gov’t to pardon jailed Catalan separatist leaders Tuesday

Barcelona, Spain, Jun 21 (EFE).- The Spanish government is poised to issue pardons for nine Catalan politicians jailed for their involvement in the illegal and ill-fated referendum and declaration of independence in 2017.

Pedro Sanchez told a conference at the Liceu theater in Barcelona that he would formally propose the pardons during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“I am convinced that removing these nine people from prison is a clear message,” he said. “Not only to them, but to Spanish and Catalan society as a whole.”

“We take nine people out of jail, but we bring millions into coexistence.”

The decision to pardon the Catalan politicians, which includes former regional vice-president Oriol Junqueras, is deeply divisive.

Right-wing parties opposed to Sanchez’s left-wing coalition have billed the measure as a capitulation to political groups that threaten Spain’s unity.

Some pro-Catalan independence parties have called for full amnesty for the jailed politicians and activists, saying the government pardons do not go far enough.

“I recognize that some people are against the measure. I understand and respect it,” Sanchez told the audience just as a heckler interrupted proceedings by shouting pro-independence slogans.

The left-wing ERC, which leads the Catalan coalition government and supplies votes to Sanchez’s coalition in the national parliament, has signalled its support to the move.

“The government has chosen the path of reconstruction and reconciliation,” Sanchez continued.

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