A SCOTS lawyer has said the pardons for Catalonia’s pro-independence prisoners are “a trap” and will set back the cause for “many years”.

Aamer Anwar was speaking after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez yesterday announced pardons for the nine politicians and civic leaders would be agreed by his cabinet today.

A total of 12 people were convicted for their part in the October 2017 Catalan referendum and nine were jailed for between nine and 13 years, including former vice-president Oriol Junqueras and several former ministers, along with Jordi Sanchez, who led the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Jordi Cuixart, head of Omnium Cultural.

Many others have been charged over the indyref and some remain in exile – among them former president Carles Puigdemont and his former ministers Clara Ponsati and Toni Comin.

READ MORE: Douglas Chapman questions Spain’s motives after indyref Catalan pardons

The Council of Europe (CoE) yesterday delivered a crushing blow to Spain by ordering the prisoners’ release and ordering it to withdraw arrest warrants for the exiles.

Anwar told The National: “The pardons are a convenient tool for the Spanish to try and divide the independence movement – after all, the exiles including Clara and President Puigdemont who have been most effective weapons in highlighting the Catalan cause internationally are not even mentioned. They still remain exiles.

“People should be asking why the 3000 Catalans who faced charges over the independence referendum are being ignored.

“The independence movement sleepwalked into a trap by becoming fixated on the plight of the nine incarcerated Catalan politicians and forgetting why they were in prison in the first place.

“For Sanchez, the pardon plays well on the international stage as it dampens the global criticism that Spain faced on its political prisoners.”

He said the CoE decision was “an embarrassing indictment of Spain’s abuse of the Catalans”, and added: “Whilst understandably there will be celebrations at the release of the prisoners, the question we should be asking Sanchez is why issue pardons and not an amnesty, after all no crime was committed.

“How ironic that a few years ago when I visited the prisoners in Lledoners with President Quim Torra, I asked what the prisoners would do if the Catalan Government, who controlled the prisons, freed their colleagues, I was told then that they would not leave.

“I for one do not trust Sanchez’s motivation, he remains a wolf in sheep’s clothing who continues to dance to Franco’s tune.

“Today I fear yet another trap set by Spain which will see the Catalan independence dream will be imprisoned for many more years.”