10:50 GMT11 August 2020
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    MADRID (Sputnik) - Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said Friday that Catalan politicians remaining in Spanish prisons are hostages.

    "It is necessary to resolve the conflict between Catalonia and Spain. We always relied on the path of peace and dialogue… Despite this, Junqueras is kept in Estremera [prison]. And Jordis [NGO leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart]. They are not political prisoners, they are hostages," Puigdemont wrote on Twitter.

    The statement was made in the wake of the Spanish Supreme Court's order concerning former Vice President of Catalonia Oriol Junqueras to remain in custody during the pre-trial investigation, announced earlier in the day.

    The arrests of Catalan politicians were triggered by the independence referendum held in the region on October 1, 2017, despite Madrid's strong opposition. During the plebiscite, over 90 percent of those participating voted in favor of Catalan independence.

    READ MORE: Spanish PM Calls Idea of Appointing Puigdemont Catalan Government Head Absurd

    Regional authorities declared independence unilaterally on October 27, 2017, but the Spanish Parliament's upper house, in response, has invoked Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, introducing Madrid's direct governance over Catalonia. The same day, the Catalan government and its head were dismissed and snap elections in the region were announced.

    The Spanish Court then issued a national arrest warrant for Puigdemont and four ex-ministers, who are currently in Belgium. Several Catalan politicians have been arrested, but most of them, unlike Junqueras, were released for the duration of their pre-trial investigations.

    READ MORE: Ex-Vice President of Catalan Gov't to Remain in Custody — Supreme Court

    prison, custody, independence referendum, Catalonia, Spain
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