The resolution of the Supreme Court has overturned the “premature” semi-freedom that the Generalitat had granted to the independence leaders, not only through the third degree, but even earlier, with the application of article 100.2 of the penitentiary regulations, which allowed them to leave daily to work despite being in the ordinary regime. The Prosecutor’s Office always considered it a “covert third degree.” In total, the former vice president of the Generalitat Oriol Junqueras has had about five months of semi-freedom those who have not been able to take full advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. The situation of the rest of the prisoners, with the exception of Carme Forcadell and Dolors Bassa who have extended their third degrees up to now, has been similar in temporal and procedural terms.
The Generalitat granted Junqueras a end of February this year, through 100.2, the possibility of getting out of prison three days a week to teach at a university center in Manresa (Barcelona), near the Lledoners prison, where he is serving a 13-year prison sentence for sedition. The pandemic and confinement, however, in mid-March thwarted these plans. The Catalan Ministry of Justice looked for a way that the prisoners to whom 100.2 had been applied – at that time and all the leaders of the “procés” enjoyed it – could be confined to their homes and not to the penitentiary. But that then set off alarms in the Supreme Court, which announced that it would act against the officials of the Catalan prisons who endorse this home confinement, since they could incur a crime of prevarication. Faced with these warnings, the Generalitat stepped back and the independence leaders were confined in prisons.
The application of 100.2 was not without controversy but, despite opposition from the Prosecutor’s Office, the competent courts ended up ratifying it in the case of the nine political leaders. But at the beginning of July the Generalitat went one step further and granted them all the third grade, which allowed them to go to sleep in prison only from Monday to Thursday. At the end of the same month, however, in the case of Junqueras the prison surveillance court suspended the third degree after an appeal from the Prosecutor’s Office that they claimed it as a precautionary measure. The rest of the imprisoned leaders suffered the same fate – days apart – with the exception of Bassa and Forcadell, who until now have been able to continue using the third grade.
Now however the Supreme Court has put a stop to the semi-freedoms of the nine leaders, to which Junqueras was entitled for about five months but marked in a notable way by the coronavirus, which prevented him from using all his prerogatives. The High Court has now ruled that the granting of the third degree to an inmate who has not served a quarter of the sentence is “exceptional”, and recalls that the former vice president will not serve a quarter of his sentence until January 2011 and half of it in May 2024.