Albert Vilalta and Roque Pascual are back in Barcelona (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The two Catalans, who had been held hostage for nine months, landed at El Prat airport yesterday at 1.17pm from a Spanish Air Force plane coming from Burkina Faso. The two were met by members of their immediate family and after spending around an hour with them met with the press. Both appeared calm and in apparent good health, despite Vilalta walking with a crutch as a result of injuries sustained during his abduction. Accompanied by the president of the Generalitat, José Montilla, and the two mayors of Barcelona and Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Jordi Hereu and Núria Parlon, they expressed their gratitude towards the Spanish government's for their diplomatic efforts which led to their release. Vilalta said: "It is a very important day after being kidnapped for nine months - now we have freedom. I am thrilled and very excited," said Vilalta. "We know that the Spanish government has made a major diplomatic effort with all the governments from the region. We are very proud of our government." The president of the Generalitat, José Montilla, welcomed their return to Barcelona and said: It is a moment of happiness for them all and Catalunya." He also thanked the Spanish government's work and all of those who had contributed to the release of the hostages.
The Ciutadans political party have threatened to take the new Código de Consumo to the defensor del pueblo (Ombudsman) for being, in parts, unconstitutional (read article in Castilian here, El Mundo). Parts if the new law, which comes into effect today in Catalunya, has been deemed unconstitutional. The parts they are concerned about are the newly imposed fines for businesses for not having staff who speak Catalan or not having signs in Catalan. President of the party, Albert Rivera informed a press conference that his party will submit, next Friday (August 27th), a letter to the Ombudsman stating that his party is against those articles in the new consumer code. Rivera argued that the decision of his party is based on the laws of free enterprise.They consider "unacceptable," from a political and legal point of view, that the government will impose sanctions on businesses, that in their opinion belong to the "private sphere." He went on to say that the government is "failing" to meet the judgements of the Tribunal Constitucional (TC) and said that "if they did not respect institutions such as the TC or the Ombudsman, then that call into question democracy itself." The PPC candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, meanwhile explained that her party are also considering appealing to the TC over the "linguistic fines." According to Sánchez-Camacho, the legislation, which enters into force today, is a "undemocratic" action that "directly affects freedom" and represents a new "act of insubordination," from José Montilla for failing to comply with the constitutional ruling over the Estatut. She said: "This is an administration of penalties, fines and impositions."
Also in the news: Catalunya is facing another heat wave from tomorrow and Friday (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Temperatures are to hit 39ºC in the centre and south of the region. The Meteorological Service of Catalonia (SMC) have said that in parts of Lleida and Tarragona will hit around 39ºC over the next few days but will not see temperatures like last Sunday.