Madrid court jails ex-Catalan MP Antonio Banos for four months after refusing Vox questions

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A former Catalan MP has been sentenced to four months in prison for refusing to answer questions from a far-right party in Spain during the 2019 trial against Catalonia’s independence leaders.

A Madrid court convicted Antonio Banos of disobedience committed on January 27, 2019 for failing to answer questions put to him by a lawyer representing the Spanish Vox party.

Banos, who was previously the former deputy leader of the pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), did not testify during the trial after being told he had to speak in Spanish.

The politician had started speaking in Catalan but was immediately told by a judge that as it is not an official language in Madrid he had to speak Spanish.

The sentencing comes just a week after CUP MP Eulalia Reguant was found guilty of the same crime. Despite this, Regaunt was spared jail time, being ordered to pay a €13,000 fine instead.

READ MORE: ‘How could this happen in a democracy?’ : Lessons to be learned from the Catalan referendum

Banos will also be disqualified from public service but may appeal the decision in the Spanish courts.

Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont denounced the decision, tweeting: “Spanish ‘justice’ sentences former independence MP @antoniobanos_ to 4 months in prison because he refused to answer questions from the party of extreme right V0X during the trial against Catalan independence leaders.

Current CUP deputy Reguant also criticized the Spanish judges, tweeting: “The ‘nonsense’ of justice: @antoniobanos_ and I have been prosecuted for the same crime.

“Two different courts hand down different sentences.

“The conclusion is the same: not responding to fascism can never be considered a crime. With you, Antonio!”

In 2019, Spain’s Supreme Court convicted 12 former Catalan politicians and activists for their role in a 2017 secession attempt.

The court sentenced former Catalan regional vice-president Oriol Junqueras to 13 years for sedition and embezzlement of public funds.

READ MORE: ‘Act or quit’: Catalans hold rally amid tension between pro-independence parties

Eight have been sentenced to long prison terms in Catalonia’s bid to secede from Spain following an independence referendum that Spain has called illegal, while three have been sentenced to less severe penalties.

The president of the regional parliament, Carme Forcadell, was sentenced to 11 and a half years in prison; former cabinet members Joaquim Forn and Josep Rull 10.5 years each; and pro-independence activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart for nine years.

Junqueras and three other former cabinet members – Raul Romeva, Jordi Turull and Dolors Bassa, who were sentenced to 12 years – were also convicted of embezzlement of public funds.

Large-scale protests erupted over the move, with police using foam bullets and batons against thousands of protesters.

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