Spain wants to ‘behead’ Catalonia’s peaceful independence movement, says jailed separatist leader

A protester holds a poster with the slogan “Catalunya is not Spain” during a demonstration to ask for the Parliament inclusion of the 3 Catalan elected MEP’s Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras and Toni Comin, in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, July 2, 2019. © REUTERS/Vincent Kessler / Free

A prominent Catalan separatist leader has said that his trial for sedition is part of Spain’s efforts to quash the region’s secessionist movement. His warning comes as Catalans gear up for an annual pro-independence march.

Oriol Junqueras, the jailed former Catalan deputy head of government, is currently waiting for a ruling on his role in the 2017 independence referendum. In an interview with Reuters, he insisted that the charges of rebellion and sedition – which could result in a 25-year prison sentence – were baseless.

“I am convinced that I am innocent and that we have not committed any crime,” said Junqueras.

What the [Spanish] state pretends with this [upcoming] sentence is to behead a peaceful movement and, as it cannot detain two million citizens, it locks us up.

He stressed that he had fulfilled a “democratic mandate” when two years ago Catalan leaders defied a judicial ban by carrying out an independence referendum. According to Junqueras, it’s possible that another secession vote could be held in the future.

Tens of thousands of Catalans are expected to take part in an annual pro-independence march on Wednesday.

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