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Who are the 12 Catalan leaders facing years in prison? | News




More than a year has passed since Catalonia’s regional parliament voted to declare independence from Spain following a contested referendum that saw Spanish police violently disperse Catalan voters.

Since then, pro-independence Catalan politicians and activists have been held in pre-trial detention on charges of rebellion, disobedience, and embezzlement of public funds for their alleged roles in the referendum and subsequent declaration of independence from Spain.

Others, such as former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, have fled Spain to avoid charges and lobby for Catalonia’s independence in the European Union.

Twelve defendants will stand trial on Tuesday before the Spanish Supreme Court for their alleged roles in the events leading to the October 2017 declaration.

The defendants face a combined total of roughly 200 years if they are given maximum sentences.

According to court filings, their attorneys intend to claim the Catalan separatists are being prosecuted for their political beliefs, such as Catalan nationalism, and the act of voting.

The majority of the politicians to stand trial come from two political parties: the left-wing Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the centrist European Democratic Catalan Party (PDeCAT).

Leaders of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural (OC) – two pro-independence civil society organisations – will also stand trial.

Oriol Junqueras

Oriol Junqueras, the former vice president, is the highest-ranking member of the former government to stand trial before the Spanish high court. He faces charges of rebellion and embezzlement and is accused of understanding the “grave risk” of violence related to the referendum, but pushing forward anyway.

Spain’s attorney general asked for the longest prison term for Junqueras [Javier Barbancho/Reuters]

Junqueras, a former history teacher, mayor, and member of the European Parliament still heads the ERC from prison, giving him considerable politic sway in national Spanish politics.

Junqueras told Politico in an interview he will “only consider acquittal” and will not ask for a pardon if found guilty.

The Spanish attorney general (AG) is asking for 25 years’ imprisonment, while the solicitor general (SG) demanded 12 years.

Joaquim Forn

Forn, the former Catalan minister of the interior, who oversaw carrying out the AG’s orders in Catalonia, is also charged with rebellion and embezzlement.

His indictment also states he understood the risk of violence related to the referendum but chose to go forward regardless.

Forn has a long political history in Barcelona, serving as a member of the city’s municipal council since 1999 and first deputy mayor from 2011-2015.

The AG has asked for 16 years, while the SG asked 11.

Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart

The two “Jordis” are pro-independence civil society leaders – Sanchez of ANC and Cuixart of OC. The two men helped organised large pro-independence protests in the days before the October 1, 2017 referendum and are charged with sedition and rebellion.

They were originally accused of sedition by the AG in September, and the imprisonment of the two was ordered on October 16, 2017 by Spanish judge Carmen Lamela.

They faced accusations of encouraging violence against Spanish national police during the protests, but numerous media outlets have published a video of the two men climbing atop a car to ask demonstrators to remain peaceful.

Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have asked for their release.

The AG has asked for 17 in prison for both, while the SG asked for eight years.

Carme Forcadell

Carme Forcadell, the former president of the Catalan parliament, was charged with rebellion and accused of voting for independence ahead of the declaration of independence. She was accused of “medullary” involvement as former president of ANC, a position she held from 2012-15.

The AG has asked her to be sentenced for 17 years, while the SG asked for 10.

Raul Romeva

Romeva, a Catalan politician, former MEP, economist and analyst, was the head of foreign affairs under Puigdemont.

Catalan protesters block roads over Spanish cabinet meeting

Llarena accused Romeva of trying to create a the “structures of a [Catalan] state” independent from Spain and of trying to promote the acceptance of a Catalan state in his role as charge of foreign affairs.

Romeva told Reuters news agency the imprisoned “see the trial as an opportunity to address public opinion and society in Catalonia, Spain and obviously at an international level”.

The Catalan leaders are accused of crimes “we have not committed”, said Romeva, adding: “That is why the only possible sentence is acquittal.”

The AG has asked he serve 16 years, while the SG asked for 11.

Dolors Bassa

Bassa is an educator and trade unionist who began her political career in 2007. She was elected to the Catalan’s parliament in 2015 and served as the counselor of labour, social affairs and families under Puigdemont.

Bassa was charged with rebellion and embezzlement for using her ministry to assume part of the costs related to the independence referendum.

The SG asked for 16 years, while the SG asked for 11.

Carles Mundo

Mundo, a lawyer, ex-counselor of justice under Puigdemont and ERC member was imprisoned along with Junqueras in November 2017 following the independence declaration. He was charged with embezzlement and disobedience.

He was released on bail in December 2017 after winning re-election in the regional vote called by the Spanish government. Mundo made a surprise announcement that he was leaving politics in January 2018, shortly after he was freed.

Both the AG and SG asked for seven years’ imprisonment. 

Jordi Turull

Turull, a lawyer and PDeCAT member whose political career began in 1987, had been a deputy in the Catalan parliament since 2004 when he was chosen as the counselor and spokesman of the presidency by Puigdemont in 2017.

He is charged with rebellion and embezzlement. 

Llarena accused Turull of propelling mobilisations in favour of the referendum and designing and managing the referendum’s advertising.

The AG asked for 16 years, while the SG asked for 11 years.

Josep Rull

Rull, a PDeCAT member and parliamentarian for 20 years, was the Counselor of Territory and Sustainability under Puigdemont. He was charged with rebellion and embezzlement.

Pro-independence demonstrators hold a poster of Rull outside of the prison that housed him in Catalonia [David Ramos/Getty Images]

Rull was accused of playing a “significant” role in the independence movement since 2015, as well as stopping Spanish national police from carrying out efforts to stop the independence referendum.

He has been in pre-trial detention since March 2018. The AG asked for 16 years, while the SG asked 11.

Meritxell Borras

Borras is a prominent figure in Catalan politics. She has been active in local politics since 1995 and is the daughter of Jacint Borras, one of the founders of the defunct pro-independence Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC).

The centrist CDC was the foremost secessionist party until its members voted to dissolve and reform as the in 2016, partly due to its many corruption scandals. Many of its former members went on to join PDeCAT

Borras, who was the Counselor of Government and Institutional Relations under Puigdemont, has been charged with disobedience and embezzlement. Both the AG and SG have asked for 7 years.

Santi Vila

Vila was a long-time member of CDC and subsequently PDeCAT. He was the Counselor of Business and Culture at the time of the independence referendum and has been charged with embezzlement and disobedience in relation to his alleged involvement.

Vila paid a 50,000 euro ($57,000) bail in November 2017. He resigned from PDeCAT in June 2018. Both the AG and SG have asked for 7 years.


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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day




The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat




In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic




TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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