Fernando Grande-Marlaska denied today on his arrival at the Congress that the rapprochement of the Catalan political prisoners is the payment of some kind of «toll» to the independentistas for their support of the motion of censure that led Pedro Sánchez to the Moncloa.
The head of the Interior Department, who is ultimately responsible for the decision to transfer the nine leaders of the process, has stated that the government has simply «strictly complied with the law», which states that prisoners must be held in centres close to their places of residence. In this regard, he stressed that the Catalan prisoners met the requirements for transfer, in particular that the judicial investigation had been «concluded» and the «approval» of the judge in the case, the Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, in the sense that he «did not need the physical presence of those under investigation» in Madrid.
A transparent process
Marlaska, in any case, recalled that Interior had operated on this matter with complete «transparency», making public last Monday its intention to move the first prisoners.
Just today, the first contingent of prisoners arrived in Catalonia, first of all at Brians-2 prison, from where they have already departed for their final destination. Former Vice President Oriol Junqueras, former ANC Councilor Raül Romeva, former ANC leader Jordi Sànchez and Òmnium’s top leader Jordi Cuixart left Valdemoro prison yesterday at ten o’clock in the morning, where they were transferred from Estremera and Soto del Real to Catalonia on Monday.
The four prisoners were transferred in a Guardia Civil dungeon-bus, along with 18 other prisoners, to the Zaragozan prison of Zuera, a classic stopover for logistical trips from Madrid to Barcelona. They spent the night in the Aragonese prison. They are now being taken to the Lledoners centre, in the Barcelona town of Sant Joan de Vilatorrada, 70 kilometres from Barcelona, the jewel in the crown of the Generalitat’s penitentiary services, as its 684 inmates live in modules of coexistence with internal elections included.
The departure of the second contingent to Catalonia began this Wednesday. They are the former president of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell, and the former councillor Dolors Bassa, who will be taken from the Alcalá Meco prison to the Puig de les Basses centre in Figueras, Gerona, a prison for men but which has a female unit with only 35 inmates with a non-confrontational profile.
There is still no date for the transfer of the other three prisoners, although their transfer, according to prison sources, is imminent after Judge Llarena, as he did with the other six inmates, today informed the Penitentiary Institutions that he has no problem approaching them. These are former advisors Joaquin Forn, Josep Rull and Jordi Turull, whose lawyers did not demand the transfer in time last week.
All three are still in the centre of Estremera, but Interior has already informed them that the first treatment meeting to be held in the prison will decide to transfer them to Catalonia. The Generalitat, if there is no last minute change, plans to place them in Lledoners, like the rest of the male prisoners.