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Imprisoned Catalan leaders begin hunger strike

Two imprisoned Catalan leaders began a hunger strike this week to protest against what they described as unfair treatment by Spain. 

Jordi Sanchez, the head of the grassroots independence movement Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) and Jordi Turull, former minister in Catalan’s regional government, condemned the Spanish government's treatment of them. 

A lawyer representing them, Jordi Pina told reporters that the pair accused Spain’s Constitutional Court of preventing their appeals from being heard by the European Court of Human Rights. 

Spain’s central government has rejected claims of unfair treatment and maintained that they would enjoy a fair trail. 

"We operate under the rule of law, we can respect their personal decision [to go on a hunger strike] but we must also understand that we are all equal under the rule of law," Carmen Calvo, the deputy prime minister said.

The two leaders were imprisoned last year when Catalan held an unofficial referendum and declared independence which the Spanish state claimed was illegal. 

Spain responded by Madrid taking control over Catalan and charging the leaders of the independence movement with abuse of public funds and rebellion. 

The Supreme Court has ordered 18 separatist leaders to stand trial. Sanchez and Turull are two of the nine leaders are already imprisoned awaiting a trial which will occur in early 2019. 

Sanchez faces a jail prospect of 17 years and Turull faces 16 years.