BARCELONA – The speaker of the Catalan parliament has scheduled a date for a plenary debate aimed at electing a new president of the northeastern Spanish region, while the sole candidate for the post on Tuesday submitted a request to be released from prison in order to attend the session.
Speaker Roger Torrent signed off for the plenary to take place on Monday just as the defense team for Jordi Sanchez, a leading figure in the separatist Together for Catalonia (JxCat) party, filed a request to the Supreme Court asking for the politician to be released from preventative prison, where he has been held for his alleged hand in the abortive separatist referendum last year.
The petition, which was accessed by EFE, appealed to Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, who is in charge of the investigation into rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds regarding leading figures in the illegal Oct. 1 referendum and its consequences, to allow Sanchez to “attend the investiture debate in person.”
Sanchez is the former head of the Catalan National Assembly, a platform that promoted Catalonia’s independence from Spain, and was placed in police custody on Oct. 16 where he remained under investigation for possible charges of rebellion and sedition.
He was a JxCat candidate in the Dec. 21 snap elections in Catalonia and has since become the front-runner to take on the regional presidency after his party leader and former president, Carles Puigdemont, renounced his own bid in favor of setting up a symbolic office in Brussels, where he was in self-imposed exile evading the same charges as Sanchez.
Several other Catalan politicians, including the former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, remained in pre-trial detention.
The debate for a new president was the latest step in restoring autonomy to Catalan institutions which were stripped of such rights in the wake of the region’s unilateral declaration of independence after the separatist ballot.