On Wednesday, the Spanish National Court acquitted the former Catalan leadership of the Catalan police: Chief Josep Lluís Trapero, Superintendent Teresa Laplana, the former Secretary-General of the Department of Interior Cèsar Puig and the former Director-General of the Mossos Pere Soler for their role in the 2017 independence referendum.
The public prosecutor was asking for 10 years in prison for Trapero, Puig and Soler for sedition or alternatively twenty months of disqualification for the crime of disobedience. For Laplana, the prosecutor asked for four years in prison for sedition or one year of disqualification for disobedience. The Public Prosecutor’s Office will now study the ruling and decide whether to appeal it.
The judgment dismantles the main arguments against the political prisoners
The verdict was based on the lack of proof that any of the defendants violated the rulings of the Constitutional Court, the Spanish High Court in Catalonia or the Public Prosecutor’s Office. It also states that it has not been proven that the defendants agreed with the government to promote the “passivity” of the Catalan police during the 2017 independence referendum.
The verdict also contradicts the sentences given to the political prisoners for sedition. It states that the Catalan police acted with proportionality, congruence and opportunity during the referendum because in case of having “used violence the situation in polling stations could have led to serious public disorder.” As for the events of September 20, 2017, the resolution details that the protest, for which Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart are imprisoned, took place “without major violent incidents during the morning and afternoon, besides the ‘destruction’ of a few cars.”
Some 66.5% of Catalans would vote in favor of a republic in a referendum on the monarchy in Spain. Only 14.6% would support the monarchy.
The survey was carried out by sixteen media outlets, based on 3,000 interviews throughout Spain, including 500 in Catalonia.
Across Spain, 40.9% would vote for the Republic while 34.9% would vote for the monarchy.
Among the various institutions mentioned in the survey, Catalonia gave the worst approval rating to the Catholic Church, 2.3 out of 10.
King Felipe VI received a rating of 3.6 from Catalans versus 5.8 from the whole of Spain.
Former king, Juan Carlos I, who fled the country amid allegations of corruption, has a 1.9 rating in Catalonia and 3.3 in Spain.
Satisfaction with the monarchy in Catalonia is 2.9 with almost half of the Catalans rating the monarchy with a 0 or 1. In Spain the support is 4.6.
The support for the monarchy remains high among right wing and far right voters, while it is very low among left wing voters. A Republic is preferred by young people and the monarchy by those over 55 years of age.
The Catalan pro-independence activist Tamara Carrasco, accused by the prosecutors of sending a WhatsApp audio message inciting public disorder, has been acquitted by the criminal court number 25 of Barcelona. She faced a 7-month prison sentence as requested by the public prosecutor.
The court found that it has not been proven that Carrasco sent an audio message about possible actions of the Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR) to anyone other than her group of friends or that she disseminated it via WhatsApp. Nor has it been proven that she exercised coordination tasks within the CDR.
“It is absolutely impossible to determine when the incitement to commit public disorder occurs in a large demonstration or gathering, and it is clear that the message sent by the defendant does not give any such instruction,” said the judge.
Carrasco was detained in 2018, accused of terrorism and rebellion and was confined for over a year in her hometown of Viladecans (Barcelona) while waiting for her case to move forward.
“As I remember it, it was surreal: I woke up, opened the door, and saw 12 armed people accusing me of terrorism,” said Carrasco.
When she was first detained, the police used an alleged voice message sent to a WhatsApp group to accuse her of terrorism and of instructing orders to a local branch of the Committee of Defense for the Republic (CDR), a decentralized network of protest groups created on the eve of the 2017 independence referendum. However, she has now been acquitted of all allegations.
Catalan President Quim Torra will seek justice in Europe following his removal by the Spanish Supreme Court on Monday.
“Some judges, not the Catalan people, decided that I can no longer be president. No unjust law applied by the Supreme Court will ever be able to defeat democracy. And I assure you that the irregularities committed to overthrowing another president will be judged in Europe,” Torra said in a televised address.
While President Torra affirmed he didn’t accept the ruling, he made clear he will not disobey and called for a plebiscite on the mandate of the 2017 referendum on independence in the next elections, which are expected to take place on February 14th.
Torra was disqualified by the Spanish Supreme Court on Monday for not removing a banner in defense of jailed and exiled pro-independence leaders from the government headquarters’ façade during an election period in 2019.
The President admitted in court that he had “disobeyed” Spain’s electoral authority by failing to remove the symbols, but added that “complying with an illegal order was impossible.” He denied that the expression ‘political prisoners’ that featured on the banner was partisan, arguing that “it is a way of speaking permitted by freedom of speech.”
“We don’t have the independent Catalan republic we were committed to building together. That’s how far I’ve come, and believe me when I say that I was ready to face any consequences,” said Torra.