Pardoned Catalan separatist leaders walk out of jail

Catalan leader Jordi Cuixart reacts in front of the Lledoners prison after the Spanish government announced a pardon for those who participated in Catalonia's failed 2017 independence bid, Sant Joan de Vilatorrada, near Barcelona, Spain, June 23, 2021. REUTERS/Albert Gea

The nine Catalan separatist leaders who were convicted for their role in a failed 2017 bid for the region’s independence from Spain walked out of prison on Wednesday after the central government granted them pardons.

Carme Forcadell, former speaker of the Catalan parliament, was first to leave the Barcelona city jail, followed by others released from the Lledoners prison near the regional capital, , Reuters footage showed.

The government pardoned the nine politicians and activists, who were sentenced to long prison terms in 2019, in a goodwill gesture aimed at kickstarting negotiations on solving the political conflict between Madrid and the region, but has ruled out a new referendum on independence.

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