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Trial of Catalonia independence leaders

The trial of the Catalonia independence leaders, legally named Causa especial 20907/2017 of the Supreme Court of Spain, and popularly known as the Causa del procés, is an oral trial that began on 12 February 2019 in the Supreme Court of Spain. Judge Pablo Llarena coordinated an instruction between October 2017 and July 2018, as a result of which 18 people will be tried, including almost all of Carles Puigdemont's cabinet, political activists Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the former President of the Parliament of Catalonia Carme Forcadell and several of its members. Most defendants are in pre-trial custody detention without bail. The court will be chaired by the judge Manuel Marchena.[1][2]

Trial of Catalonia independence leaders
Supreme Court of Spain
CourtSupreme Court of Spain
Full case nameCausa Especial número: 20907/2017 del Tribunal Supremo de España
Decided12 February 2019 (2019-02-12)
Transcript(s)Summary, Popular accusation by Vox
Court membership
Judges sittingManuel Marchena (president) Antonio de Moral García, Luciano Varela, Andrés Martínez Arrieta, Juan Ramón Berdugo Gómez de la Torre, Ana María Ferrer García, Andrés Palomo del Arco
Keywords
2017 Catalan independence referendum

Amnesty International[3], the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights[4] have expressed concerns over human rights violations during the altercations produced in October 2017.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

On 9 November 2014, the non-binding 2014 Catalan self-determination referendum was held. The 2015 Catalan regional election, which was considered a plebiscites by pro-independence parties, saw the formation of a pro-independence government. In September 2017, the Parliament of Catalonia approved the Law of the referendum on self-determination of Catalonia and the Law of juridical transition and foundation of the Republic. Both laws were declared illegal by the Constitutional Court of Spain. The 2017 Catalan independence referendum called on the 1st of October, 2017, was suspended by the same court.[5][6] Despite it, the referendum was held. Those in favor of independence invoked what they defined as "a clash of legalities in force" to ignore the Constitutional Court requirements.[citation needed] According to the Generalitat de Catalunya, there were more than two million votes cast.[7] The international observation mission invited by the Generalitat concluded that the vote failed to meet the international standards to be considered as a properly organised referendum due to the circumstances surrounding it and the Spanish government response.[8] During that day, the Mossos d'Esquadra, with the support of other state police departments, closed over a hundred polling places and seized an unknown number of ballot boxes[9]. There were many scenes of physical violence when Spanish security forces used batons, rubber bullets and tear gas in an attempt to avoid voters from casting their vote and confiscate ballot boxes.[10][11][12] Subsequently, some of the perceived promoters ended up in preventive detention without bail, accused of crimes of rebellion, disobedience, and embezzlement. Others, including Puigdemont, fled into self-exile.[13]

ProsecutorsEdit

The prosecution is formed by the State Prosecutor's Office, the State Attorney's Office and the far-right political party Vox as public prosecutor. The defendants have been accused of the crimes of rebellion, disobedience, and embezzlement.

  • Spanish Attorney General: The prosecutors of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court who drafted the indictment were Javier Zaragoza, Fidel Cadena, Consuelo Madrigal and Jaime Moreno, maintaining the lawsuit for rebellion filed by José Manuel Maza, former attorney general of the state, in 2017 and the instruction of Judge Pablo Llarena.[14] According to the prosecution's text, "the secessionist plan included the use of all the means necessary to achieve its objective, including - with the certainty that the state would not accept the situation - the violence necessary to ensure the pretentious criminal outcome, using the intimidating force that represented, on the one hand, the tumultuous action deployed with the large mobilizations of citizens instigated and promoted by them, and, on the other, the use of the Mossos d'Esquadra, armed police made up by approximately 17,000 troops who would exclusively abide by their instructions -as was the case- and that, if necessary, they could coercively protect their criminal objectives, thus subtracting the fulfillment of the genuine function of keeping and preserving the constitutional order ".
  • The State's advocacy body was presented to the cause in March 2018. According to its submitted text, consellers (ministers) Junqueras, Forn, Turull, Romeva, Rull and Bassa must receive a more serious punishment for their authority status, as responsible parties for having induced, sustained and directed the sedition from its condition of members of the Catalan Government. The rest are accused of having executed the referendum using public funds and of disobedience for having systematically ignored the agreements of the Constitutional Court. The activists Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez are accused of having induced, sustained and directed a crime of sedition. In December 2018, the director of the State's legal service, Consuelo Castro, replaced Edmundo Bal in favour of Rosa Maria Seoane as a representative for the cause.[15]
  • Vox: This political party was admitted as a public prosecutor in November 2017 by magistrate Maria Eugènia Alegret, provided they paid a deposit of 20,000 euros.[16] According to Vox, a "binding" referendum was promoted and that supposed "a clear attempt to subvert the constitutional order" to "disintegrate the territorial unity of the State", by which they understand the events that occurred as a "subversive attack against the current constitutional order", as a coup strategy to hold an "illegal referendum" on the 1 October 2017.[17] Jordi Cuixart's defense lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court, demanding that the far-right party be expelled from the proceedings and not be able to participate in the trial. The Supreme Court, despite criticizing "the risk of transferring the political dispute to the legal process", ended up dismissing the appeal.[18] Javier Ortega Smith, lawyer and general secretary of the party, and Pedro Fernández, deputy secretary of the party, will represent Vox during the trial.[19]

DefendantsEdit

There are a total of 18 people being tried within the context of this case. They are listed below in alphabetical order by their last name, indicating the accusation and the conviction requested.[20][21]

Politicians and activists
Name and position in 2017 Photo General Attorney Prosecution Sentence requested by GA Prosecution by Solicitor general Sentence requested by Solicitor general Popular accusation (Vox) Sentence requested by Vox Defendant Lawyer
Dolors Bassa
Counselor of Labour, Social Affairs and Families
  Rebellion and embezzlement 16 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Sedition and embezzlement 11 years and 6 months of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Rebellion, criminal organization, and embezzlement 74 years of imprisonment Mariano Bergés
Meritxell Borràs
Minister of Governance, Public Administration and Housing
  Civil disobedience and embezzlement 7 years of imprisonment, 16 of absolute disqualification and a fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months Sedition and embezzlement 7 years of imprisonment, 10 of absolute disqualification and a fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months Criminal organization, civil disobedience and embezzlement 24 years of imprisonment, a fine of 108.000 euros and special disqualification from occupying public office for two years
Jordi Cuixart
President of Òmnium Cultural
  Rebellion and embezzlement 17 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Sedition 8 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Two crimes of rebellion or two of sedition and criminal organization. 52 years of imprisonment Marina Roig and Benet Salellas.
Carme Forcadell
President of the Parliament of Catalonia
  Rebellion 17 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Sedition and embezzlement 10 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Two crimes of rebellion and two of sedition, criminal organization and civil disobedience. 52 years of imprisonment, fine of 108.000 euros and special disqualification from occupying public office for two years Olga Arderiu and Josep Orilla
Joaquim Forn
Minister of the Interior
  Rebellion and embezzlement 16 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Sedition and embezzlement 11 years and 6 months of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Rebellion, criminal organization and embezzlement 74 years of imprisonment Xavier Melero
Oriol Junqueras
Vice President
  Rebellion and embezzlement 25 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Sedition and embezzlement 12 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Rebellion, criminal organization and embezzlement 74 years of imprisonment Andreu Van den Eynde
Carles Mundó
Minister of Justice
  Civil disobedience and embezzlement 7 years of imprisonment, 16 years of absolute disqualification and a fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months Sedition and embezzlement 7 years of imprisonment, 10 years of absolute disqualification and a fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months Criminal organization, civil disobedience and embezzlement 24 years of imprisonment, a fine of 108,000 euros and special disqualification public office for two years Olga Arderiu Ripoll and Josep Orilla
Raül Romeva
Minister for External and Institutional Relations, and Transparency
  Rebellion and embezzlement 16 years of prison and absolute disqualification Sedition and embezzlement 11 years and 6 months of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Rebellion, criminal organization and embezzlement 74 years of imprisonment Andreu Van Den Eynde
Josep Rull
Counselor of Territory and Sustainability
  Rebellion and embezzlement 16 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Sedition and embezzlement 11 years and 6 months of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Rebellion, criminal organization and embezzlement 74 years of imprisonment Jordi Pina
Jordi Sànchez i Picanyol
President of the Catalan National Assembly
  Rebellion and embezzlement 17 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Sedition 8 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Two crimes of rebellion, two of sedition and criminal organisation. 52 years of imprisonment Jordi Pina
Jordi Turull
Counselor and Spokesperson of the Presidency
  Rebellion and embezzlement 16 years of prison and absolute disqualification Sedition and embezzlement 11 years and 6 months of imprisonment and absolute disqualification Rebellion, criminal organization and embezzlement 74 years of imprisonment Jordi Pina
Santi Vila
Minister of Culture
  Civil disobedience and embezzlement 7 years and 16 of absolute disqualification, a fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Embezzlement 7 years and 10 of absolute disqualification, a fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Criminal organization, civil disobedience and embezzlement 24 years of imprisonment, a fine of 108.000 euros and special disqualification from occupying public office for two years Joan Segarra

The following six defendants were charged in the instruction of the Supreme Court yet it decided to send their cases to the High Court of Justice of Catalonia:[22]

Politicians
Name and position in 2017 Photo General Attorney Prosecution Sentence requested by GA Prosecution by Solicitor general Sentence requested by State Lawyer Popular accusation (Vox) Sentence requested by Vox Defendant Lawyer
Ramona Barrufet
Member of the Board of the Parliament of Catalonia
  Civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Serious civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Criminal organization and civil disobedience 12 years of imprisonment, fine of 108.000 euros and disqualification from occupying public office for two years Judith Gené
Mireia Boya Busquet
Deputy of the Parliament of Catalonia
  Civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Serious civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 4 months Criminal organization and civil disobedience 12 years of imprisonment, fine of 108.000 euros and disqualification from occupying public office for two years Benet Salellas, Isabel Afonso and Carles López
Lluís Corominas [ca; es]
Member of the Board of the Parliament of Catalonia
  Civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 4 months Serious civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Criminal organization and civil disobedience 12 years of imprisonment, fine of 108.000 euros and disqualification from occupying public office for two years
Lluís Guinó [ca; es]
Member of the Board of the Parliament of Catalonia
  Civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Serious civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Criminal organization and civil disobedience 12 years of imprisonment, fine of 108.000 euros and disqualification from occupying public office for two years
Joan Josep Nuet [ca; es]
Member of the Board of the Parliament of Catalonia
  Civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Serious civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 8 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 4 months Criminal organization and civil disobedience 12 years of imprisonment, fine of 108.000 euros and disqualification from occupying public office for two years Enrique Leiva
Anna Simó
Member of the Board of the Parliament of Catalonia
  Civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 8 months Serious civil disobedience Fine of 100 euros per day for 10 months and special disqualification for 1 year and 4 months Criminal organization and civil disobedience 12 years of imprisonment, fine of 108.000 euros and disqualification from occupying public office for two years Olga Arderiu, Raimon Tomàs and Josep Orilla

In addition, the prosecutor of the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) is requesting prison time for the former head of the Mossos d'Esquadra, Josep Lluís Trapero, and the rest of the Mossos d'Esquadra command in 2017.[23]

Catalan Police "Mossos d'Esquadra"
Name and position in 2017 Pic Accused of Sentence claimed
Josep Lluís Trapero Álvarez
Mossos d'Esquadra Major
  Rebellion 11 years of imprisonment and disqualification
Pere Soler [ca; es] Rebellion 11 years of imprisonment and disqualification
Cèsar Puig [ca] Rebellion 11 years of imprisonment and disqualification
Teresa Laplana [ca] Sedition 4 years of imprisonment and absolute disqualification for 11 years.

CourtEdit

The court will be formed by seven members in the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Spain, chaired by Manuel Marchena:

  • Manuel Marchena (Chair)
  • Antonio de Moral García
  • Luciano Varela
  • Andrés Martínez Arrieta
  • Juan Ramón Berdugo Gómez de la Torre
  • Ana María Ferrer García
  • Andrés Palomo del Arco

In September 2018, five of them (Manuel Marchena, Luciano Varela, Juan Ramon Berdugo, Andres Martinez Arrieta and Antonio de Moral) were recused by six of the defendants. The first four were part of the admission room that processed, on 31 October 2017, the complaint filed by the then Attorney General of the State, José Manuel Maza. One of the grounds for the recusation was that, upon admitting the complaint, these four judges could not guarantee their impartiality, a requirement for all members of the court. The Supreme Court dismissed the challenge and supported their impartiality to prosecute the case.[24]

CrimesEdit

The defendants have been accused of the following crimes:

Accusations of the Public Prosecutor's Office
Crime Article on Spanish Penal Code Defendants Cause
Rebellion Article 472 and concordant Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa, Carme Forcadell, Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart 20907/2017
Embezzlement Article 432 and concordant Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Turull, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa, Meritxell Borràs, Carles Mundó and Santi Vila 20907/2017
Civil disobedience Article 410 and concordant Lluís María Corominas, Lluís Guinó, Anna Isabel Simó, Ramona Barrufet, Joan Josep Nuet, Mireia Boya, Meritxell Borràs, Carles Mundó and Santi Vila 20907/2017

ReactionEdit

 
Rally against the trial in December 2018

On 7 March 2018, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded Spanish authorities that "pre-trial detention should be considered a measure of last resort", referring to the Catalan politicians and activists arrested after the independence referendum.[25]

On 15 October 2018, Amnesty International requested the immediate release of the two activists Sánchez and Cuixart (known as the Jordis since they share their first name), stating that he found the maintenance of provisional detention unjustified and considered it an excessive and disproportionate restriction of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.[26] In November 2018 Amnesty International, through their Campaigns Director for Europe Fotis Filippou, announced, in a letter addressed to the Jordis, that he would supervise the trial "to analyze whether the guarantees of a fair trial were met".[27] Days before the beginning of the trial, Amnesty International asked the Court to allow its observers to attend it in order to evaluate that the guarantees of a fair trial were fulfilled. The Supreme Court refused their request arguing that publicly broadcasting the trial was enough.[28]

On 21 November 2018, more than 120 professors and law professors published a letter in the digital newspaper Eldiario.es stating that neither the acts of 20 September nor 1 and 3 October 2017 saw the violence required in a crime of rebellion.[29] A group of MEPs stated that they wanted to attend the trial as observers.[30]

On 22 November 2018, the World Organisation Against Torture requested in an open letter addressed to the Spanish government, the Attorney General and the ombudsman the immediate release of Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. The same organization recalled that they had requested for their release several times without success.[31] The day after, the NGO Front Line Defenders also issued a statement calling for the release of Cuixart.[32][33]

In late November 2018, the American Political Science Association (APSA), which represents more than 10,000 American university professors, sent a letter to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez asking him to "put an end to the intimidation" to the five ex-trustees of the Electoral Syndicate of 1 October. Meanwhile, the Political Science Association (PSA) of the United Kingdom, an association with over 2,000 Political Science professors, issued a statement denouncing the situation of the ex-trustees.[34]

In December 2018, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers issued a statement requesting the release of "Catalan political prisoners".[35]

More than 500 parliamentarians and former parliamentarians from 25 different countries signed a manifesto calling for the release of Carme Forcadell. Among these signatories were 35 MEPs and the presidents of the parliaments of Flanders, Corsica, Faroe Islands and the Basque Country. This initiative was promoted by the ex-presidents of the Catalan parliament Ernest Benach, Núria de Gispert and Joan Rigol.[36]

On 16 January 2019, the former presidents of the Catalan Parliament and the Generalitat de Catalunya, along with the Ombudsman and at their request, signed an official statement addressed to the Supreme Court asking them to "guarantee the right of defense for the defendants", requesting alternative measures other than imprisonment during the trial for the defendants, as these measures, including daily transfers to and from the prison and extended waiting times in their cells, could "difficult continuous contact with their lawyers and limit active participation in their defense for no legal reason, thus restricting their right".[37]

On 21 January 2019, the PEN Club International presented a manifesto signed by 148 PEN members from 100 countries around the world, denouncing the "disproportionate charges of sedition and rebellion" against the Jordis.[38]

On 11 February 2019, the day before the beginning of the trial, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization expressed their support to "the Catalonian activists being tried" and added that "perhaps one of the biggest deficit of justice and deliberate confusion between law and justice, is seen in Catalonia.".[39] On the same day, the European Democratic Lawyers association requested the "immediate" release of the Catalan leaders and expressed their "concern" due to a "lack of procedural guarantees during the trial".[40] The day after, the International Commission of Jurists denounced the trial "unduly restricts rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association".[41]

Hunger strikeEdit

On 1 December 2018, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull declared that they were starting a hunger strike to protest against the Constitutional Court's obstacles to their appeals for protection, not allowing them to go to European Court of Human Rights.[42] At the time after the strike began, the Constitutional Court had eight appeals admitted without a mention of the two prisoners, with them having filed the first appeal on 22 November of the previous year. According to the law on criminal prosecution, these appeals should have been resolved within a maximum period of 30 days. On 3 December 2018, Josep Rull and Joaquim Forn declared that they would join the hunger strike on the following day.[43]

On 19 December 2018, ex-presidents of the Generalitat, former speakers of the Catalan Parliament and the Catalan Ombudsman (Síndic de greuges) made a public request for the politicians on hunger strike to bring it to an end. They argued that the hunger strike had already given visibility to their situation and was putting their lives in danger. A day later, the prisoners declared that they were stopping the hunger strike, since the protest "has awakened the Constitutional Court" and also since the court had already scheduled the resolution of the appeals filed.

ReferencesEdit

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