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Where’s the EU outrage at Spain’s brutal sentencing of separatists?

Protestors holding a banner reading "Free political prisoners" Credit: LLUIS GENE / Getty Images

October 15, 2019 - 6:30am

The Spanish Supreme Court has sentenced leaders of the Catalan independence movement to a combined 100 years in prison on charges of sedition, following their failed attempt to secede from Spain two years ago.

Oriol Junqueras, former deputy leader of Catalonia, received 13 years, while former leader Carles Puigdemont is still in Belgium but will face extradition if Madrid gets its way. Carme Forcadell, former Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, received 11 and a half years for “rebellion”, her crime being to not prevent a debate on independence.

As with the French police’s casual brutality towards Gilets Jaunes protestors (compare and contrast with the way our police treat Extinction Rebellion like they’re on a gap year) so the Spanish violence towards Catalan separatists was a reminder that they do things different on the continent. Can you imagine policemen from the Home Counties being sent up to Glasgow to crack heads because the SNP had dared to hold a referendum?

Today’s harsh sentences were condemned in Catalonia and across Euro… oh. No they weren’t.

At the time of the crisis in 2017 Europe’s leaders were hardly in a desperate rush to condemn Spain’s behavior either. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte called it an “internal Spanish matter” while a French diplomat told Reuters that President Macron had “complete confidence in Rajoy to resolve the situation”.

Indeed, several notable EU politicians condemned the Catalans, one calling the referendum a “coup against Europe”.

I wonder what Spain would need to do to lose the support of the Union in this case; I also wonder what the Brussels line might be were Britain, or for that matter Hungary or Poland, to respond to a breakaway province in a similar manner.

Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable


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