By Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2020

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - The Spanish government says it will from next week start to hear requests for the pardon of the imprisoned leaders of Catalonia’s secessionist movement.

Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campos said Wednesday that the requests to pardon the politicians and activists, who were found guilty last October of sedition while leading a failed secession attempt in the northeastern Spanish region in 2017, would commence next week.

The review process can take months.

Nine of the 12 separatists found guilty were given prison sentences of nine to 13 years by Spain’s Supreme Court.

The announcement comes as Catalonia’s regional president awaits the ruling of the Supreme Court in a separate case that could result in him being removed for power for breaking electoral laws.

Spain’s government is engaged in complicated negotiations to approve a new budget in which it may need the support of Catalonia’s separatist political parties in the Parliament.

Polls show that Catalonia’s 7.5 million residents are equally split on the issue of independence from Spain.

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