TWO of Catalonia’s political prisoners jailed for their part in last year’s independence referendum have gone on indefinite hunger strike in protest at their forthcoming trials.

Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Turull made officials at Lledoners prison, north of Barcelona, aware of their protest yesterday, as the first picture of the nine together in a prison courtyard was sent to select media outlets – including the Sunday National – by the pro-independence Omnium Cultural.

Four of them have been in pre-trial detention for 13 months and the others since March. Two other female pro-indy figures are in a separate prison.

In the photo, the seven men appear relaxed and, despite their predicament, in reasonably good spirits.

In a statement released by Omnium, Sanchez, former head of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Turull, who was Catalan minister for the presidency, denounced “the blockade of European justice” that Spain’s Constitutional Court (CC) had imposed on them.

“Timely access to the courts without delay or unnecessary obstacles is a right that every person has,” they said. “Failure to exercise this right with full guarantees and in fair conditions can lead to irreparable damages and damages to fundamental rights.

“The cause investigated by the Spanish state on the referendum of October 1, evidences a lot of affectations on our fundamental rights, including the presumption of innocence, freedom, political rights and the rule of law, a judicial process with all due guarantees.”

They cite breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in resolutions that the Supreme and National courts had issued against them since the first pre-trial detention orders were issued.

“Our determination to have a fair, lawful trial is stronger than ever. We have not ceased to appeal all those violations of our rights that the Spanish courts have committed.

“But it is the international courts, and in particular the European Court of Human Rights, where today we deposit the trust to get justice.”

That route, they said had been blocked by the CC, which had accepted their appeals to be processed later, “in order not to resolve any of them”.

They said: “According to official data of the CC, the accepted number of appeals ranged between 1% and 1.5% of the total number of those presented. In our case, they are filed 100%, then forgotten in a drawer.

“The Spanish legislation (Criminal Procedure Act) and the doctrine of the same Constitutional Court, stipulate that the appeals against pre-trial detention orders must enjoy preferential processing and must be resolved within a maximum period of 30 days.

“The first appeal for constitutional protection of our fundamental rights, accepted by the Constitutional Court against the pretrial detention order decreed by the National Court, was filed on November 22, 2017, more than 365 days ago.

“An unjustified delay, and more so if we keep in mind the records of quick resolutions resolved by the Constitutional Court in several occasions, where it has met even on a weekend and only 24 hours after its intervention has been requested.”

Sanchez and Turull said they want an “impartial and diligent” CC and will not passively accept any “discrimination or unwarranted procrastination”.

“We ask for the attention and support of all the democratic people of Catalonia, Spain, Europe, and the world,” they said. “We invite you to preserve the civic and peaceful attitude that has made us so strong over these years.

“We urge the ‘Smile Revolution’ to flourish through events that will continue to be celebrated in Catalonia in the coming days and weeks.

“And we also ask for our hunger strike not to alter the spirit or celebration that these dates, close to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, bring to the majority of us.”