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CATALONIA

Spanish court jails Catalan independence leader for 13 years

Catalan independence leader, Oriol Junqueras, sentenced to 13 years behind bars.
Catalan independence leader, Oriol Junqueras, sentenced to 13 years behind bars. Pablo Blazquez/Reuters

Spain's Supreme Court has sentenced nine Catalan leaders to prison terms ranging from nine to 13 years for sedition and misuse of public funds for their role in a failed 2017 independence bid. Meanwhile, a Spanish judge has issued a new international warrant for the arrest of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.

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The warrant for Puigdemont, which calls for his detention on grounds of sedition and misuse of public funds, was issued shortly after the Supreme Court convicted 12 Catalan separatist leaders, nine of whom were handed lengthy prison terms of up to 13 years.

The sentences for the 12 leaders were lower than demanded by the prosecution which had sought up to 25 years behind bars for former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras.

"The Supreme Court has condemned Oriel Junqueras to 13 years in prison... on grounds of sedition and the misuse of public funds," the ruling said, handing 12 years to three other former regional ministers.

Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said the prison terms handed to nine Catalan separatist leaders were an "outrage".

"100 years in all. An outrage. Now more than ever, by your side and those of your families. It is time to react as never before," tweeted Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium to avoid prosecution.

"We will come back even stronger," says main Catalan defendant Junqueras.

"To those who are driven only by the will to do harm, we say to them that nothing ends today, you neither win nor convince...we will come back even stronger. We will come back and win," Junqueras wrote in a letter to his supporters from prison.

Spanish football champions FC Barcelona criticised the jail sentences, saying "political dialogue" was needed instead.

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