Madrid, March 22 (IANS) Jordi Sanchez on Wednesday officially renounced his candidacy to be the next leader of Spain’s Catalan region.
Sanchez, the leader of the separatist Catalan National Assembly and second in command in the Junts per Cat (JperC) electoral lists behind Carles Puigdemont in the December vote, has spent almost five months in jail outside of Madrid awaiting trial on charges of sedition.
Those charges relate to a pro-Catalan independence protest in Barcelona on September 20 last year and if found guilty he faces a prison sentence of 15 years, reports Xinhua.
Former Catalan leader Puigdemont withdrew his candidacy from his self-imposed exile in Belgium in order to avoid charges of sedition and rebellion levelled against him. Sanchez was chosen as his replacement.
Sanchez is reported to have told a judge in a court appearance on Monday in which he again requested bail that he was willing to renounce both his candidacy and his seat in the Catalan parliament in order for this to happen.
Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent said after Sanchez renounced his candidacy, that the decision was “the best service” he (Sanchez) could perform and an “act of generosity”.
Torrent announced the start of a third round of talks to try and form a government with former Catalan regional government spokesman Jordi Turull, a member of Puigdemont’s JperC party, who is expected to be named as the new candidate.
Turull is currently out of prison on bail as he too awaits trial on charges related to the Catalan independence process. He too could be banned from holding office in the near future.