Three detained Catalan independence leaders have appealed to the United Nations through their lawyers in London, Barcelona and Paris claiming unlawful imprisonment. The UN working group is going through the submitted appeal asking them to intervene in the cases of the ousted vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, and the Catalan civil society group chiefs Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez.
After the Geneva meeting, any decision will still not be binding on Spanish courts but will be a signal of international disapproval (or approval). Two years ago, the working group declared that Julian Assange, was being “arbitrarily detained” while in the Ecuador embassy in London.
Cuixart is president of Òmnium Cultural and Sànchez is a former president of the influential Catalan national assembly. They were arrested in October after the independence referendum, while Junqueras was detained in the month that followed. They have been in prison since then.
A case on behalf of the men cannot be taken directly to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg until all legal remedies within Spain have been exhausted. The lawyers are not acting for the deposed Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, who fled Spain for Belgium before he could be arrested.
The Catalan parliament was due to hold a presidential investiture debate on Tuesday, but the session was postponed by the speaker in the wake of a ruling by Spain’s constitutional court that Puigdemont would have to attend in person.
The splits among the pro-independence camp were laid bare earlier this week after a Spanish TV programme published private messages in which Puigdemont said his push for independence was over and complained that he had been “sacrificed” by his own side.
Puigdemont did admit to writing the messages but said they had been sent in a moment of doubt. He also added that he would not abandon hopes and efforts to reclaim presidency in the future.