The amnesty for Catalan separatists comes into effect in Spain


A controversial amnesty for Catalan separatists has come into effect in Spain.

The ‘Law for Institutional, Political and Social Normalization in Catalonia’, published in Spain’s official gazette on Tuesday, means separatists who have fled abroad to escape the Spanish legal system can return home without fear of arrest.

Most notable among these figures is the former regional government leader Carlos Puigdemontwho was wanted for holding what Spanish authorities deemed an illegal referendum on Catalan independence almost seven years ago.

The approval of the amnesty law in parliament at the end of May was preceded by heated debates and several votes in both houses of parliament, and led to street protests.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had promised the Catalanistas amnesty and other concessions to secure the votes of two separatist parties for his re-election last November.

The liberal Junts party of separatist leader Puigdemont and the left-wing ERC are both still pushing for Catalonia’s secession from Spain. However, Sánchez wants to prevent this and defuse the conflict through dialogue.

About 400 people are expected to be covered by the law.

After the referendum on Catalonia in the autumn of 2017, the conservative central government placed the region under its administration. Puigdemont fled with some of his supporters and has since lived in exile in Belgium.

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