Barcelona on imprisoned Catalan political leaders: Jail is not the solution

Barcelona have criticised the jailing of political figureheads in Catalonia by the Spanish state: “Jail is not the solution.”

The Blaugrana immediately released a statement on Monday morning after Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition over their role in an independence referendum in 2017.

Oriol Junqueras – the former vice-president of Catalonia and the highest-ranking pro-independence leader on trial – was handed the longest sentence of 13 years for sedition and misuse of public funds.

The prosecution had sought up to 25 years in prison for Junqueras but he, alongside the eight others, were cleared of a more serious charge of rebellion.

“FC Barcelona , as one of the reference (institutions) of Catalonia , and in accordance with its historical trajectory, from the defense of freedom of expression and the right to decide, today, after the conviction issued by the Supreme Court in relation to the open process against Catalan civic and political leaders, states the following,” read the club’s statement.

“In the same way that pretrial detention did not help resolve the conflict, neither will the prison issued today, because prison is not the solution.

“The resolution of the conflict that Catalonia is experiencing is exclusively through political dialogue.

“Consequently, now more than ever, the club asks all policy makers to lead a process of dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict, which also has to allow the release of convicted civic and political leaders.

“FC Barcelona also expresses all its support and solidarity to the families of those who are deprived of their freedom.”

Following the court's verdict, Catalan independence supporters marched in Barcelona displaying banners that read "free political prisoners" while urging others to "take to the streets".

Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters rallied in the city ahead of the verdicts being confirmed on Monday.