Spain Approves Amnesty Law on 2017 Catalan Independence Referendum

By John Mercury June 1, 2024

Spain’s Parliament approved a landmark law on Thursday that grants amnesty to Catalan separatists involved in the illegal October 2017 independence referendum, a reprieve that could apply to hundreds of people, including Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan leader who has been living in self-imposed exile for seven years.

The measure had met with resistance from opposition parties in recent months, and led to widespread anger and huge demonstrations in cities around Spain, with opponents denouncing it as a ploy by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to remain in power. Mr. Sánchez brokered the amnesty deal with the Catalan separatist party Together for Catalonia after his own party fell short of a majority in last July’s general elections.

Cries of “traitor” could be heard from several lawmakers in Parliament when Mr. Sánchez cast his vote on Thursday.

Spain’s judges now have two months to apply the new law, although its opponents vowed to continue trying to block it. Some argue that the measure violates the Constitution’s principle of equality because it is unfair to other people facing legal proceedings.

The regional president of Madrid, Isabel Ayuso, said in a radio interview on Thursday that her government would take steps to hinder implementation of the new law and present an appeal on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

Pablo Simón, a political scientist at Carlos III University in Madrid, said that judges could also bring legal challenges if they considered granting general legal amnesty to be discriminatory.


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