The Spanish Supreme Court on Monday sentenced Oriol Junqueras, former deputy leader of the Catalan regional government, to 13 years in prison for sedition and the misuse of government funds for his role in the Catalan independence referendum on Oct. 1, 2017, which was declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court.
The former speaker of the Catalan regional parliament Carme Forcadell and other former members of the assembly have been given sentences to between nine and 12 years in prison.
Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cruxat of the pro-independence cultural groups, Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural, have both been handed nine-year sentences for sedition.
The 493-page resolution of the Supreme Court Judges absolved the accused of the accusation of "rebellion" which could have carried sentences of up to 25 years in prison after considering that a "violent and public uprising" did not happen as part of the referendum process.
"Spain is a consolidated democracy ... This is Spain and we have made it together -- people and institutions through coexistence and respect for the law," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Twitter.
Spain has an independent "judiciary, with the same standards as the most advanced democracies," said Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska. "This is a State of law, not a state of revenge."
"This has been a trial with all of the guarantees of a democratic process and although it (the sentence) may seem harsh, justice is what it has to be ..." he added.
Catalonia has been part of the Kingdom of Spain since 1469. But the region has long argued that its unique history, culture and language are a far cry from those of Spain.
The referendum in the northeast region of Spain, which seeks the independence of Catalonia, was a social and political movement which the Spanish government and Constitutional Court insists was illegal.