THE appeal before the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) for jailed Catalan independence leader Jordi Cuixart will affect the defence of fundamental rights throughout Europe, it has been claimed.

Cuixart is serving nine years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of sedition for his role in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum, but an international media conference organised by Omnium Cultural, the grassroots body he leads, heard his case went beyond a row with Spain.

Olivier Peter, one of his legal team, told the event: “If there are so many of us here today, it is because the Cuixart case is putting at risk the whole system of fundamental rights in Europe.

“It is a European appeal because the result will have effects on the fundamental rights of the whole of European society.”

The lawyer listed some Cuixart’s rights which had been violated, including the right to demonstrate, to a fair trial and effective defence, the principle of legality, and protection against arbitrary detention.

He added that he was "very confident" the Strasbourg appeal would be successful.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, speaking in a recorded message from the US, said the case was “one of the most egregious examples” of state power being used to silence people.

Meanwhile, as Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez moves closer towards pardons for the nine jailed indy figures, Catalan President Pere Aragones said while that would be a welcome “first step”, the path to resolving the dispute with Madrid lay with talks on allowing a legal indyref.

The leader of the Republican Left (ERC) told Reuters the pardons would not resolve the underlying problem, and called for an amnesty for all those involved in the 2017 indyref.

He said: “Pardons should be a first step in a negotiation stage, of recognising the national conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish state”, eventually allowing “Catalan citizens to decide".

Aragones is due to meet Sanchez in Madrid later this month, and said a referendum and amnesty would be his main requests, and said he was “absolutely convinced” Catalonia would eventually become a separate country.