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Spanish leader: 9 Catalan separatists will be pardoned

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Monday that the Spanish Cabinet will approve pardons for nine separatist Catalan politicians and activists imprisoned for their roles in the 2017 push to break away from Spain.

Sánchez made the announcement on Monday in Barcelona during a speech set to lay the roadmap for the future of the northeastern region before a few hundred representatives of the region’s civil society. He said the Cabinet would approve the pardons on Tuesday.

Nine separatist leaders were handed lengthy prison sentences for sedition and other crimes linked to a banned secession referendum and for declaring independence a few days later based on its results, even when most unionists boycotted the vote.

A man holds an "estelada" or Catalan pro-independence flag during a speech of Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez, not pictured, at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, June 21, 2021. Sanchez's said Monday that the Spanish Cabinet will approve pardons for nine separatist Catalan politicians and activists imprisoned for their roles in the 2017 push to break away from Spain. (AP PhotoEmilio Morenatti)

No prominent pro-independence supporters attended Sánchez’s speech at Barcelona’s opera house. Outside the venue, an anti-establishment Catalan party and the main pro-independence civil society group were holding a protest.

Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a speech at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, June 21, 2021. Sanchez's said Monday that the Spanish Cabinet will approve pardons for nine separatist Catalan politicians and activists imprisoned for their roles in the 2017 push to break away from Spain. (AP PhotoEmilio Morenatti)

Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a speech at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, June 21, 2021. Sanchez's said Monday that the Spanish Cabinet will approve pardons for nine separatist Catalan politicians and activists imprisoned for their roles in the 2017 push to break away from Spain. (AP PhotoEmilio Morenatti)