JORDI Sanchez, who is standing in next week’s Spanish election, yesterday became the first of the jailed Catalan pro-independence candidates on trial to take part in an interview with the world outside Soto del Real prison.

The head of the Barcelona list of Together for Catalonia (JxCat) told journalists in a video conference that he was convinced a referendum on self- determination for Catalonia could be negotiated with the Spanish government. He said he assumed that the Socialist party (PSOE) of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez would be re- elected and that he would have no choice but to negotiate.

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“After 550 days in prison, this is my first opportunity to speak to Catalan citizens,” said the man who presided over the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). “The referendum will be part of the solution, and I am convinced that the PSOE will in some way accept a challenge of historical responsibility for resolving one of the most important problems … from the transition.

“I would greatly reduce the red lines that Pedro Sanchez has – we do not have red lines, we have convictions.”

Jordi Sànchez speculated that an agreed referendum would be held over the next few years, and stressed that the pro-independence camp still had “the mandate of 1-O”, the October 2017 referendum that led to his “preventative detention”.

He added: “There must be a commitment on the part of Pedro Sanchez that he will work to find the solution through the ballot box, which happens through a referendum. The mandate of the 1-O is alive as a will expressed by the people of Catalonia and collected by [the Catalan] parliament.”

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While the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Jordi Sanchez to take part in the video conference was a surprise, there was anger and some sadness when he was brought before the camera in a room where a picture of King Felipe with the Spanish flag hung beside him.

“It looks like a mockery of democracy. Is this the image of a future European democracy to which current EU leaders are leading?” Natalia Matveeva wrote on social media.

ANC International said: “Jordi Sànchez ... is a democrat, a republican and uses peaceful means to work for the freedom of his country. The very same who call him a nationalist, put a royal flag and a portrait of the Spanish king beside him.”

Former vice-president Oriol Junqueras will take part in a similar press conference today.