It wasn’t just the “Premature” third degree —In definition of the Supreme Court— that granted the secessionist prisoners, that too. The Generalitat, with the subsequent approval of the penitentiary surveillance judges, had already maneuvered before to lighten the prison stay of the pro-independence leaders through the back door.
It was through article 100.2 of the penitentiary regulations, an unusual procedure that makes the classification of inmates more flexible, and that the Ministry of Justice used to grant them a “third concealed degree” – as defined by the Prosecutor’s Office – that allowed them to get out of prison daily. An article that is already exceptional – only 121 of the almost 7,000 convicted prisoners in Catalan jails had it – for the leaders of 1-O they also used a “premium” version. As ABC announced, they enjoyed these benefits ten times faster than the other 100 inmates of the “club of 100.2”. Now, the Supreme Court’s resolution deprives the Generalitat of both tools -third degree and 100.2- with which to lighten their sentence.
For seven of the nine “procés” prisoners, it was about five months of a “semi-freedom” always conditioned by the pandemic: from when the Generalitat granted them 100.2 at the beginning of the year, until at the end of July the court accepted the precautionary measure claimed by the Prosecutor’s Office to suspend the third degree until the Supreme Court resolved the merits of the matter. This was not the case in the case of the former president of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell and the former Minister of Labor Dolors Bassa —Which until yesterday they continued to benefit from the third degree because the court kept it awaiting the Supreme Court—, that they only had to go back to prison to sleep from Monday to Thursday. But yesterday the prison of Wad Ras (Barcelona), in which Forcadell is serving a sentence, and that of Puig de les Basses (Gerona), where Bassa is, received the official notification from the Supreme Court that he aborted his third degrees. They were immediately advised that they had to re-enter prison.
To show their rejection of the Supreme Court’s resolution, and in support of Forcadell and Bassa, The Catalan National Assembly (ANC) called eleven motor marches to both prisons. In some, breaking the current municipal perimeter confinement to prevent coronavirus infections.
The ANC initiative was perhaps the most visible of a pro-independence movement that yesterday, as if using a predefined shared argument, agreed to call the resolution “revenge”. “The Supreme persists in the thirst for revenge”, accused the vice president of the Catalan Government, Pere Aragonès. Of “pure revenge” spoke the president of the Catalan Parliament, Roger TorrentThe CUP also referred to “revenge”. Even United We Can, through Jaume Asens, the most akin to secessionism: “This is not an act of justice, but of revenge.” The PSC limited itself to saying that it respects the resolution.
The pronouncement of the Supreme Court ends five months of a “semi-freedom” that the Generalitat gave the prisoners through 100.2, granted to each one at different times but all in the first two months of the year. The pandemic and confinement, however, ruined some initial plans of the Catalan prisons and the Generalitat that were later endorsed by the prison surveillance judges despite opposition from the Prosecutor’s Office. The Ministry of Justice looked for a way that the prisoners, already with 100.2, could confine themselves to their homes. But that claim set off the alarms in the Supreme Court, which warned that it would act against Catalan prison officials who support this home confinement since they could incur a crime of prevarication. In July, the Generalitat took another step forward and granted prisoners the third degree, which allowed them to sleep in prison only from Monday to Thursday. At the end of the same month, the justice suspended seven of them as a precautionary measure. Until now, Forcadell and Bassa have been spared, but yesterday they also had to re-enter prison.