BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Six former regional parliamentarians from Catalonia were escorted from prison on Tuesday to attend a hearing in the regional chamber in Barcelona.Former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras and five other former members of the regional government, who are in prison for trying to become independent from Spain, were greeted with applause and exclamations of «Freedom!» by a small group of supporters within the parliament building.
They were not handcuffed and were not accompanied by uniformed officers, although police were deployed abroad. The regional president, Quim Torra, and the speaker of the chamber greeted them with hugs and warm hands. It was the first time the six imprisoned politicians had returned to the Catalan parliament since their arrest following the failed attempt at independence in October 2017. The Spanish Supreme Court sentenced them in October along with three other colleagues for sedition and embezzlement of public funds, and sentenced them to between 9 and 13 years in prison. On Wednesday, they were summoned to the regional parliament to attend a session of the commission that analyses the consequences of the temporary intervention of the region by the Spanish authorities, which occurred at the zenith of the 2017 crisis.The movement separatist is having trouble maintaining the unity of its three main political parties. The independence in the region, of 7.5 million inhabitants, has caused the biggest political crisis in Spain in several decades. Polls show that Catalans are roughly half-divided on the question of independence. The Spanish Constitution indicates that the country is indivisible.