Trial of Catalan Police Leadership During the 2017 Independence Referendum Week 1, January 20, 21, 22 and 23

The trial of the Catalan police leadership during the 2017 independence referendum begun on Monday in Spain’s National Court. Former Catalan police (Mossos) chief Trapero, the former police director Pere Soler and the former secretary-general of the Catalan interior ministry César Puig are charged with rebellion, whilst former Catalan police superintendent Teresa Laplana is charged with sedition.

Former Catalan police chief Josep Lluís Trapero

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Trapero defended his actions during the 2017 independence bid, as well as the actions of other members of the former Catalan police leadership. He denied any cooperation with the independence bid, or any “close relationship” with the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.

Trapero affirmed that the Mossos (Catalan police) didn’t facilitate the referendum and instead applied criteria of proportionality in the actions to not cause greater damage. The former police chief assured that it was “impossible to stop 2.3 million” people who were holding the referendum. “There were not sufficient officers.”

Trapero also said that he offered himself to arrest Catalan president Puigdemont if it was necessary.

Intendant Teresa Laplana

On Wednesday, Teresa Lapana assured that she was “not responsible” for the police operation at the Economy Ministry on September 20, 2017. She affirmed that her task that day was to “transmit Spain’s Civil Guard’s requests to her superiors.”

Laplana: “When I arrived [at the Economy Ministry] there were already a lot of people: around 700 and the number was increasing. There were all kinds of people of all ages, including families, and the attitude was peaceful.”

Laplana also said that she only talked to the former leader of the Catalan civil society organization ANC, Jordi Sànchez, because former police chief Trapero asked her to speak with him about the “detainees’ entry and departure” and also to help the judicial commission leave the building later that same day.

Former director of the Catalan police Pere Soler

On Thursday, Pere Soler explained that all human, material and budgetary resources were used to comply with court orders regarding the referendum. “The number of officers was increased by 800. The whole body of Mossos was mobilized like never before. We made a huge sacrifice.” The former director of the Mossos emphasized that “it was a joint operation” with other Spanish police forces.

Soler dismissed follow-up of Spanish officers as “false.” He said he knew that chief Trapero was against the referendum. “He told me that there could be a public order incident and that he wanted to report it to Minister Joaquim Forn.”

Soler also assured that the former Interior Minister Forn never gave him “instructions for the Mossos to support the referendum.”

Former Secretary-General of Interior Cèsar Puig

On Thursday, Cèsar Puig affirmed that he had no jurisdiction related to the independence referendum. “I had nothing to contribute to strategic or operational issues in relation to the referendum. I was responsible solely for managing resources to comply with court orders.”

Cèsar Puig was named Secretary-General of Interior in 2015 and was dismissed in 2017 in accordance with Article 155 (Spain’s direct rule) in Catalonia. “My role with the referendum was zero. The Government wanted to hold an agreed referendum, but I had no competence in this regard,” emphasized the former Secretary-General.

On the referendum, Puig reiterated that there was a “joint” operation with the Civil Guard and the National Police. He also admitted that he knew that former police chief Trapero and the Mossos were against the referendum.

ANC and Òmnium to Organize Five Massive Marches to Respond to the Upcoming Independence Trial Verdict

The pro-independence organizations Catalan National Assembly(ANC) and Òmnium Cultural have announced that they will organize five massive public marches from different parts of Catalonia to Barcelona. This will be “a countrywide response to the upcoming Independence Trial verdict demanding the freedom of political prisoners and exiles, against repression, and to claim the right to self-determination.” 12 Catalan leaders are expected to be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for organizing a referendum on independence in 2017.

Under the slogan Marxes per la Llibertat (Marches for Freedom), the action will take place in the days after the verdict is announced, on a date that the organizers will make public by then. The marches will start from five different locations: Girona, Vic, Berga, Tàrrega and Tarragona and will travel 100 kilometers on foot for three days until they arrive at the Catalan capital: Barcelona. According to the organizers, “the initiative is inspired by other historical peaceful marches such as Gandhi’s Salt March and Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”

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On the first and second day, there will be two stages and on the third there will be only one because it is planned to arrive in Barcelona at noon. Each stage will begin and end in an urban nucleus in which a public breakfast, lunch and dinner will be offered at a symbolic price, and accommodation for the night will be free and people will continue the next day. ANC and Òmnium seek to involve the whole territory, in “a ‘transversal and ‘plural’ way to return the leading role of demonstrations to the citizens.” Citizens will be able to participate without the obligation to complete an entire march.

Aside from the marches, ANC and Òmnium will also organize demonstrations across the country the day of the announcement of the verdict, which is expected to be some time this week or on Monday. The demonstrations will be announced through social media specifying all the details.

Democratic Tsunami

The Tsunami D, the Democratic Tsunami, is an initiative that was launched on social media networks on September 2 and received immediate support from all pro-independence forces and leaders. According to the initial statement, the initiative’s object is to respond to the Independence Trial verdict through non-violent civil disobedience.

The manifesto was launched on social media networks and on a website calling for people not to give up in the defense of individual and collective rights and says that for this reason a democratic, organized and determined struggle is needed, based on non-violent civil disobedience. Without any type of violence, “but with all firmness.” How it will be done and what it will consist of is still not concrete, but it said: “Self-criticism, irony, creativity, diversity, imperfection and everything that promotes a collective and transversal movement will be the tools. We do not shrink back from the discomfort that may result from the exercise of fundamental rights and social transformation. We assume it and confront it.” 

The first action of the Democratic Tsunami campaign took place on September 5, when over 15,000 banners and posters with the message “Change the state of things” appeared across the country.

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Although it is still unclear who is behind this campaign, all pro-independence forces and leaders rapidly supported the initiative: Presidents Puigdemont and Torra, Junqueras, Rovira, Aragonès, Torrent, Costa, Boya, Mauri, Paluzie, Cuixart, etc.

President Torra Urges Catalan Parliament’s Speaker Roger Torrent to Be Prepared to Reinstate Exiled Leader Carles Puigdemont as President

On Saturday, President Torra urged Catalan Parliament’s Speaker Roger Torrent to be prepared to reinstate exiled leader Carles Puigdemont as President. It came a few hours after Torrent called for a “national unity government” of pro-independence and republican parties as one of the possible responses to the upcoming Independence Trial verdict.

In an interview for the ACN news agency on Saturday morning, Torrent said that President Torra must have his formula on the table and, if the occasion is given, it must be able to be materialized.

Torrent: “A national unity government is a good formula which would represent 80% of society.”

Nevertheless, Torra argued that all institutions, including the Parliament, will have to lead the reaction to the verdict during a period of “democratic confrontation [with Spain].”

Torra has insisted for months that any verdict other than the acquittal must have a democratic response based on the exercise of the right to self-determination.

This past weekend a new independentist summit took place in Switzerland with representatives of the pro-independence parties and the organizations JxCat, ERC, CUP, ANC and Òmnium. The aim of the meeting was to find strategic unity over the next few months.

Trials Against the Catalan Pro-Independence Movement and the Majority of Catalans

Independence TrialSpain’s Supreme Court 

12 Catalan leaders, including former members of the government who led the 2017 independence referendum, were tried: Oriol Junqueras, Joaquim Forn, Josep Rull, Dolors Bassa, Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull, Meritxell Borràs, Carles Mundó, and Santi Vila; the former speaker of the Parliament Carme Forcadell and the civil society leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez. Nine of the accused have been held in preventive detention for almost two years, despite calls for their release from human rights groups and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions (WGAD).

Spain’s public prosecutor has charged the nine defendants in custody with misuse of public funds, sedition, and violent rebellion and has requested prison sentences of up to 25 years in jail.

The prosecutors have charged the three defendants who aren’t in preventive jail with offenses such as disobedience and misuse of public funds. They have also requested that they to be temporarily barred from holding public office.

The trial ended last June after 52 sessions. The judges are expected to issue a ruling either in September or October.

Former parliament bureau members – Spain’s High Court in Catalonia (TSJC)

Five former members of the parliament bureau and former MP from the CUP party, Mireia Boya, will be tried in the Spain’s High Court in Catalonia.

The members of the Bureau are charged with the offense of disobedience, allowing laws enabling independence to be voted on and approved by the Catalan Parliament. Former MP Boya is being charged for registering the initial proposal.

The preparations for the trials are expected to begin this autumn.

The Catalan police leadership on trial – Spain’s National Court

Former Catalan police chief, Josep Lluís Trapero, and four former police heads are accused of lack of action in preventing the 2017 independence referendum and mishandling the protests during the Spanish police raids on September 20 of the same year.

The prosecutor has charged Trapero, another Mosso and a former interior minister with aiding the rebellion and has requested 11 years in jail for each of them. Another Mosso is accused of sedition and risks a four-year jail term if found guilty.

The trial is expected to begin on January 20, 2020.

30 people are on trial over referendum logistics – Local Barcelona court

30 people, including government officials, civil servants and media workers are being prosecuted by a Barcelona court for collaborating with the organization of the 2017 independence referendum.

The prosecutor has charged them with crimes such as misuse of public funds, disobedience, deceit, revealing secrets and perversion of justice. Until the trial takes place, those accused have been granted liberty on bail of 5.8 million euro.

The court is still carrying out its investigation in preparation for the trial.

The ANC Urges the Catalans to Use the Mobilizations of the Independence Trial Verdict Response to “Take Strength” to Resume Unilateralism

Last week, the President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Elisenda Paluzie, urged the Catalans to use “the impulse of the upcoming Independence Trial verdict” to make demonstrations capable of forcing the Catalan government to recover unity and re-make a roadmap for independence.

Paluzie also said that according to the roadmap of the ANC, unilateralism must be resumed when pro-independence parties get over 50% of the total votes in a Catalan general election. In this regard, she said that unilateralism is “complex” and that it must be “reinforced” with the legitimization of the votes.

The President of the ANC admitted that there is “disparity” within the pro-independence movement, but that has also occurred on other occasions, such as in 2012 and 2013. For this reason, she insisted on calling for unity “in the face of the foreseeable condemnation of the political leaders and entities that serves to resume the path to independence and bring the objective back on the top of the agenda.”

Regarding the discomfort expressed by ERC with ANC’s strategy in the last few weeks, Paluzie pointed out that “it depends on the moment and the strategy adopted, the ANC may disturb one party or another.” She also made it clear that if there were people who ever insulted ERC leaders in a demonstration, it is an “isolated fact that the ANC does not support at all […] we have to be very hard in the content, but very elegant in the forms,” added Elisenda Paluzie

13 International Observers Denounce Violation of Human Rights During the Independence Trial

The International Trial Watch (ITW) platform has published thirteen reports of human rights activists and jurists around the world who attended the Independence Trial.

Each report written by these observers is autonomous. The ITW has not intervened in the drafting and has limited itself to coordinating and grouping them in this publication.

The authors of the reports include John Philpot – Canadian lawyer, Paul Newman – Indian philosopher and former spokesperson for the People’s Tribunal/Court of Sri Lanka, Bill Bowring – European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights, Jelle Klaas – Nederlands Juristen Comité Voor De Mensenrechten, Patrizio Gonella and Susanna Marietti – Antigone, Matthieu Cretenand – University of Geneva, Cécile Brandely and Claire Dujardin – French Lawyers’ Union (AED), Ernesto Moreau – Argentinian lawyer, Sahar Francis – Defense and Human Rights Association Addameer, Cristina Servan Melero – Pro-Human Rights Association of Andalusia, Ramón Campos García and Ana Sebastián Gascón – Free Association of Lawyers of Zaragoza, and Joseba Belaustegi Cuesta – member of the Basque platform Jurists for the Right to Decide.

John Philipot, for example, considers that “The essence of this trial is to criminalize the exercise of civil and political rights. The Spanish state is treating these twelve politicians and social leaders fundamentally as a single criminal organization as if they were drug traffickers or an organized crime syndicate.”

Paul Newman concludes that “the only violence that occurred during the 2017 October 1st independence referendum was committed by the Spanish police and the Civil Guard, not the Catalan government.” He also points out that “everyone has the inherent right to self-determination.”

Jelle Klaas, who focuses his argument in the case of Jordi Cuixart, says “Arresting, detaining, and prosecuting Cuixart and asking for a 17 years prison sentence, in essence, is the fact that he made use of his human rights to protest.”

Claire Dujardin defines the trial as a “judicial farce.”

Sahar Francis of the Defense and Human Rights Association Addameer, an expert in the defense of Palestinian political prisoners in the military courts, comes to assure that “some of these practices [witnessed at the Supreme Court] are very similar to those of the military prosecution of the occupation.”

All experts agree that in Spain fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, are being violated, and that it is affecting the entire Spanish population. They also affirm that the essence of the trial “is to criminalize the exercise of civil and political rights.”