Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont attends a pro-independence protest in Barcelona earlier this month.
Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont attends a pro-independence protest in Barcelona earlier this month. Manu Fernandez

Spain offers Puigdemont prison

SPAIN'S ruling party, Partido Popular, has issued its most severe warnings to date to Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont over the consequences of the widely predicted overnight declaration of independence.

"Anybody who declares it could end up like the one who tried it 83 years ago,” PP spokesman Pablo Casado said in reference to Catalonian leader Lluis Companys's failed bid for independence that left him in jail from 1934-36. He was executed in 1940.

Mr Puigdemont was widely expected to declare independence in the regional parliament on Tuesday evening, nine days after the Catalan region voted for independence in a referendum dismissed by Madrid as illegal.

With 24 hours to go, Mr Casado said the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, planned to avail himself of every means provided by Spanish law and the Constitution to fight any declaration.

Although he did not say which specific charges Mr Puigdemont might face, according to El Espanol, Mr Casado warned that in Spain the crimes of sedition carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and rebellion against the state 25 years.

Mr Companys was sentenced to 30 years in jail.

"They [independence leaders] are going to run headlong into the [courtroom] dock,” Mr Casado predicted. "It's going to cost them.”

Mr Casado was later careful to point out that his comparisons with Mr Companys had referred to the Catalan's 1934 trial and incarceration after the independence bid, not to his subsequent capture, torture and execution by General Franco's police in 1940.

"I meant that history should not repeat itself,” he explained, "and if you forget history, you're condemned to repeat it. In history, declarations of independence by Catalonia have fared very badly.”

Mr Casado also insisted there was no room now for international mediation and that the Spanish government had "nothing to negotiate with the golpistas” - the Spanish word for conspirators in a coup d'etat.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria made what she called "an appeal to sensible people inside the Catalan government not to fling itself into the abyss”.

She bluntly described Mr Puigdemont as a "fanatic” and insisted that this is "why we need a double dose of commonsense”.

"It [a declaration of independence] will not go unanswered,” she said, adding "all measures necessary will be taken” in response.

The PP's hardline attitude towards Mr Puigdemont has been given fresh momentum by Sunday's massive pro-Spanish unity rally in Barcelona.

It found further backing on Monday when Opposition Leader Pedro Sanchez, head of the Socialist Party, finally confirmed that his party would "stand by the [Spanish] state” if a declaration of independence materialised.

Meanwhile, Nils Muizneks, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, revealed that he has requested Spain's Ministry of the Interior set up an independent inquiry into multiple claims of disproportionate use of excessive force by the Spanish police during the banned referendum on October 1.