Four Catalan politicians who are currently being held in pre-trial custody for their role in last year’s independence drive have called off a hunger strike that they began earlier this month, claiming that they have achieved their objective.
Two of the jailed pro-independence leaders, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull, began the strike on December 1 to protest the fact that their appeals have not been passed on to the European justice system, claiming that the Constitutional Court is deliberately delaying ruling on them. Quim Forn and Josep Rull joined the strike two days later, and the former had to be taken to the prison hospital last Friday.
The men say that the strike has served to draw attention to the delay by the top court, which has now established a calendar to deal with the men’s appeals, and to raise awareness among the public of the issue.
“They are in good health,” said the politicians’ spokesperson, Pilar Calvo, on Thursday. “They will now be taken into the prison hospital and be put on a strictly controlled diet, which will be liquid at first. They have lost between 10% and 11% of their body mass.”
Another group of Catalan politicians – including five former regional premiers – yesterday released an open letter in which they called on the men to cease their protest, in order to protect their “lives and their health” and to guarantee their optimum participation in their upcoming court case and “in the political future of the country.”
The signatories included ex-premiers Jordi Pujol, Pasqual Maragall, José Montilla, Artur Mas and Carles Puigdemont, as well as four former parliamentary speakers, and the current regional ombudsman. Last night the current Catalan premier, Quim Torra, also called on the politicians to end their hunger strike, but did not sign the letter.
The Supreme Court has expressed its concern over the condition of the four hunger strikers, given that their trial in Madrid is due to start in just a few weeks. All of the defendants are being held in jails in Catalonia and at some point will have to be transferred to the Spanish capital, a process that would have been more complicated should the strikers have been in a delicate state of health.
English version by Simon Hunter.