A delegation of seventeen MEPs from different political groups is set to travel to Madrid in the coming weeks to visit the prisons where Catalan political prisoners are being held following the recent referendum and declaration of independence in the Catalan Parliament.
Eight members of the legitimate Catalan government have been imprisoned, including two former MEPs, Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva. In addition, two pro-independence civil society leaders, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, have also been put in prison.
The MEPs visiting the Madrid prisons are from four different political groups (Greens/EFA, GUE/NGL, ALDE and ECR) include Martina Anderson, Izaskun Bilbao, José Bové, Mark Demesmaeker, Jill Evans, Eleonora Forenza, Josu Juaristi, Lídia Senra Rodríguez, Jordi Solé, Igor Soltes, Bart Staes, Indrek Tarand, Josep-Maria Terricabras, Ramón Tremosa, Marie-Pierre Vieu, Renate Weber, and Tatjana Zdanoka.
Catalonia voted for independence from Spain in a referendum held on October 1st which was marred by police violence against peaceful voters. The Catalan government held the referendum having won a parliamentary majority in favour of doing so.
Spain has since imprisoned several members of the legitimate Catalan government whilst others have been exiled, and direct rule imposed from Madrid.
EFA MEP Jordi Solé (ERC) said:
"With a view to the elections on December 21st, and for the good development of the campaign, the members of the legitimate Catalan government who are in prison should be freed, and the necessary conditions for those who are in exile should be met in order to secure their return."