HUMAN rights group Amnesty International is to monitor the forthcoming trials of Catalonia’s political prisoners to ensure that they are fair.

The pledge came in a letter to the two Jordis – Cuixart, president of the grassroots Omnium Cultural and Sànchez, former president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) – from Amnesty’s director in Europe, Fotis Filippou.

He also repeated a call for the pair, who have been in preventative detention for more than a year, to be released immediately without charge, claiming that the measure “violates the right to freedom of expression and free assembly”.

Filippou wrote: “We are deeply concerned that more than a year has passed since your arrest and still you are detained.

“This is a situation that we consider unjustifiable; that we have denounced internationally and that we will continue to denounce until you are released and the charges of rebellion and sedition are withdrawn.

“We have stated also that if the authorities consider there are grounds to bring charges in connection with preventing police from carrying out their lawful operations, that could be prosecuted as a public order offence, but would not justify a year’s pre-trial detention and the rebellion and sedition charges you are facing.”

Amnesty have spoken out twice before about the Jordis’ detention – two days after they were arrested in October 2017 and on the first anniversary of their detention.

“As we did then, we highlight now that the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly includes the possibility for individuals and civil society organisations to express their opinions about the independence referendum at any time, whether individually or collectively, including in the context of public assemblies,” said Filippou.

“In the coming months, the oral hearings of the trial will begin; we will monitor these to assess whether fair trial guarantees are fulfilled.

“Our organisation, specially from our offices in Barcelona, Madrid and London, will keep undertaking actions that we hope could have a positive impact on your cases.”

Meanwhile, a week of strike action by public sector employees in Catalonia eased off yesterday after a major medics’ union reached agreement with the Catalan Health Institute (ICS) over improvements in primary care.

Doctors began their action on Monday and were later joined by teachers, students and civil servants, action that peaked on Thursday with more than 8000 demonstrators taking to the streets of Barcelona.

The medics wanted a guaranteed minimum of 12 minutes for each patient visit, with no more than 28 visits a day.

Finer details of the agreement have still to be worked out, but both sides agreed that 250 new family doctors would be hired, along with further investment of €100 million (£89m) in the primary healthcare sector.

Carolina Roser, from Doctors of Catalonia, said a means of lowering workloads had been reached, and the agreement satisfied “almost all the demands”.

Catalan President Quim Torra, said he was satisfied with the agreement, but he criticised the “fiscal deficit” which he said saw €15 billion (£13.3bn) a year taken out of Catalonia for Spain’s central government coffers.

He said: “Catalonia generates enough resources to be able to serve them, and nobody in the country can be left behind.”

Elsewhere, Catalonia’s foreign minister has written to four Native American members of the US Congress to dissociate himself from remarks made by his Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell.

During a discussion earlier this week about why the United States was more politically integrated than other countries, he triggered outrage when he said: “All they did was kill four Indians.”

Alfred Bosch said in his letter that Borrell’s remarks showed “heartlessness and insensitivity towards the genocide of the American natives”.