Catalan Independence Trial: Summary Most Important Testimonies May 13 and 14

May 13, Day 43 of Trial

The day started with testimonies from citizens who voted in the 2017 independence referendum followed by a declaration from Mireia Boya, a former MP of CUP party.

– Mireia Boya explained that she participated in the demonstration in front of the Catalan Finance Ministry on September 20, 2017, to protest against the detention of Catalan government officials. “The atmosphere was festive. It was easy to get to the door,” she said.

Boya also explained that she went to “defend” the CUP headquarters the same day when she heard that the Spanish National Police was trying to enter the building without a court order.

– Francesc Esteve, the head of the Catalan government’s legal department, told the court that he was not aware of any irregular payments made by the Catalan government for the referendum.

– Mercè Corretja, head of the Catalan government’s public procurement, said that she searched the public contracts registry several times and she hadn’t found anything related to the referendum. She also said that the Catalan government accounts had been blocked by Spain 15 days prior to the vote.

– Nuria Cuenca, the head of the education department in the Catalan government, told the court that the Spanish police caused damage at schools of €268,000 the day of the referendum.

May 14, Day 44 of Trial

The day was marked by a clash between Judge Marchena and Jordi Cuixart‘s defense counsel, Benet Salellas.

Judge Marchena repeatedly interrupted the witness Marina Garcés whenever she expressed her feelings over the referendum day. “We can’t waste time,” he said.

Judge Marchena: “Your personal opinions are of no interest, even though you would love to keep talking about them.”

Lawyer Benet Salellas protested Marchena’s assessment, noting that the court had been receptive to “the perceptions of witnesses of the referendum when they were police officers.” However,  Marchena suggested he would be glad if Salellas remained quiet during the cross-examination of academic Marina GarcésSalellas then protested and denounced a “continued violation of fundamental rights” and said he would not be asking further questions as a result of the decision. “Much better,” Marchena responded.

Ramon Font, the head of an education trade union, spoke about the initiative to keep schools open with activities during the independence referendum weekend.

Font said that many organizations joined the initiative: “We couldn’t conceive that schools, for us temples of culture and democracy, would remain closed for any state decision.”

Jordi Pesarrodona, a voter of the referendum, said that the Spanish police hit his testicles with batons several times the day of the referendum.

Maria Lluisa Carrillo, a voter of the referendum, said she was thrown to the ground by the Spanish police, who then, broke her pelvis.

Mercé Arderiu, a lawyer at the Catalan parliament, said the order of the day was changed on a 6 and 7 September 2017 plenary session at the request of MPs. She explained speaker Forcadell had no power to prevent this from happening.

Lluis Corominas, a former member of the Catalan Parliament’s Bureau, on the former speaker Forcadell: “All formal necessities were always examined. The president cannot do anything alone.”

Anna Simó, a former member of the Catalan Parliament’s Bureau, said that Forcadell never once used her tie-breaking vote in any parliament decision. “The president of the chamber could not stop the alteration of the agenda. It was up to the parliament,” she said.

Additional Information 

On May 14, the electoral authority stopped jailed leader Junqueras from joining a televised EU election debate, arguing that it was incompatible with the timetable of the prison where the former vice president is being held.

Also on May 14, Catalan speaker Roger Torrent met with the Council of Europe  commissioner for human rights, Dunja Mijatović, to talk about Spain’s “violation of rights and democratic regression.”

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Police Raid Catalan Schools to Remove Yellow Coloured Items

On Friday, agents of the Mossos (Catalan police) entered several Catalan schools and ministries across the country to remove yellow ribbons and anything else coloured yellow, including drawings of vegetables and tractors issued by the Agriculture Ministry. On Thursday Spain’s Electoral Board had ordered the Catalan police to remove “yellow symbols” from public facilities, arguing that these are political and partisan symbols. This decision and the police operation, which attempts against the freedom of opinion and expression of the Catalans, caused widespread indignation across the country; they believe the Spanish State is using any and all means at its disposal (whether legitimate or illegitimate; legal or illegal) to impose direct rule over Catalonia with the aim of stamping out independentism.

The order of the Spanish Electoral Board urged the agents to wait for half an hour so that the people in charge of the buildings could remove the items themselves, but if not, the agents were ordered to do so. Catalan Minister for Home Affairs Buch announced on Friday evening that the Mossos had complied with the order to remove all such “symbols” from government buildings and schools.

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Tweet: Mossos at Sagrada Familia school in Caldes d’Estrac are currently erasing the yellow ribbons that the children had painted for a mural for peace.

 

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Tweet: A couple of Mossos have come to the school to check there are no yellow ribbons. They commented there is too much yellow in this corridor. 

 

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Tweet: The head of Planas i Casals school explains that the Mossos have searched cupboards and drawers of teachers. Are yellow ribbons so dangerous? Who ordered this search?

 

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Tweet: Mossos have also entered the Els Tres Turons school in Arenys de Mar, removed posters from notice boards and inside the departments. 

 

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Tweet: The Mossos have just come to the rural school of Perafita (Lluçanes) with orders to take down any symbols with regards to the elections. They’ve removed the violet ribbons were hung up for the Women’s Day on March 8. It’s a disgrace!

 

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Tweet: We received messages informing us that at midday, during class time, some schools were visited by the National Police (case of the INS of Les Borges Blanques) and Mossos [Catalan police] asking for symbols showing solidarity with prisoners and exiles. Do you know if this is happening in more centers? 

International Trial Watch Warns of Irregularities in the Independence Trial

International Trial Watch, an organization which is monitoring the trial against the Catalan political prisoners over the 2017 referendum, warned on Monday that the Spanish Supreme Court hadn’t admitted “crucial” evidence about the Catalan leaders which would clearly undermine the defendant’s rights to a proper legal defense.

In a press release via Twitter, International Trial Watch has explained that the outcome of the past week will be presented by 6 observers: William Mozdzierz, member of the American Bar Association; Dominique Nogueres, president of the French League of Human Rights; Alexandre Faro, advocate and member of the International Federation of Human Rights; Frédéric Ureel, advocate and member of European Democracy Advocates; Fabio Marcelli, lawyer of the European Association Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights; and Javier Pérez Royo, professor of Constitutional Law of the University of Seville.

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➡ The accusations do not take into account that the actions of the defendants may be covered by fundamental rights. If so, it would not be possible at the same time that the accused had committed a crime.

The observers have remarked that the accusations “do not have in mind that the acts of the accusers could have violated their fundamental rights.” “If that were the case, it would not be possible at the same time that the accused had committed any crime,” they added.

The platform also warned that it would examine”procedural anomalies” related to the court not suspending the trial to incorporate documentation that the defenders do not dispose of and if the accusation may have “violated procedures.”

International Trial Watch has verified that the Supreme Court has not reserved a room for the observers, which has led “hours of queues” to the portal to access the room. In addition, they have remembered that on the first day of trial, far-right Vox sympathizers “organized the queue and distributed numbers of entry;” days later the police did it.

The observers have estimated that approximately 40 people can enter as public. For this reason, International Trial Watch has reiterated to the court the need to reserve places in the room for observers. 

 

Jailed Catalan Leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull Go On Indefinite Hunger Strike

The Catalan political prisoners Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull, leaders awaiting trial for last year’s referendum, announced earlier this Saturday they were starting an indefinite hunger strike to protest over their treatment by Spanish courts.

Official Declaration of Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull from Lledoners Prison 

<< We denounce:

the blockade of European justice that the Constitutional Court imposes upon us

Timely access to the courts without delay or unnecessary obstacles is a right that every person has. Failure to exercise this right with full guarantees and in fair conditions can lead to irreparable damages and damages to fundamental rights.

The cause investigated by the Spanish State on the Referendum of October 1, evidences a lot of affectations on our fundamental rights, including the presumption of innocence, freedom, political rights and the rule of law, a judicial process with all due guarantees. The violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are quite prominent in many of the resolutions that both the Supreme Court and the National Court have issued against us since October 16, 2017, when the first pre-trial detention orders were issued.

Our determination to have a fair, lawful trial is stronger than ever. We have not ceased to appeal all those violations of our rights that the Spanish courts have committed. But it is the international courts, and in particular the European Court of Human Rights, where today we deposit the trust to get justice.

The Constitutional Court (CC), however, blocks our access to European justice. The action of the CC is as simple as blatant: to accept 100% of our appeals for constitutional protection of fundamental rights, to be processed later on in order not to resolve any of them.

According to official data of the CC, the accepted number of appeals ranged between 1% and 1.5% of the total number of those presented. In our case, they are filed 100%, then forgotten in a drawer. The Spanish legislation (Criminal Procedure Act) and the doctrine of the same Constitutional Court, stipulate that the appeals against pretrial detention orders must enjoy preferential processing and must be resolved within a maximum period of 30 days. The first appeal for constitutional protection of our fundamental rights, accepted by the Constitutional Court against the pre-trial detention order decreed by the National Court, was filed on November 22, 2017, more than 365 days ago. An unjustified delay, and more so if we keep in mind the records of quick resolutions resolved by the Constitutional Court in several occasions, where it has met even on a weekend and only 24 hours after its intervention has been requested.

We ask for an impartial and diligent Constitutional Court, which should not impede the exercise of our rights. We denounce the blockade that the Spanish Constitutional Court de facto imposes upon us to access the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). We reaffirm our determination, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights, to fully exercise our defense rights. We will never give up on our right to a fair trial.

We do not ask the Constitutional Court for any treatment of favor. But we do not passively accept any discrimination or unwarranted procrastination. The question is not even that the Court would rule in our favor, but simply that the appeals presented would be unblocked (by being not admitted or by simply being rejected). Only in this way, will the road to access Euro- pean justice be opened to us. We are well aware that the longer it takes for us to access the European Court of Human Rights, regaining our freedom will take longer as well.

We denounce the blockade of European justice imposed on us by the Constitutional Court. And we do so with all the strength and dignity of a line of political action strongly rooted in non- violence. Thus, we will resort to one of the few legitimate forms of protest that being imprisoned allows us; by conducting a hunger strike.

We will not do it against anyone, but in favor of creating awareness and fostering action to prevent the acceptance of something that is not normal as normal. The irregular functioning of the Constitutional Court is of severe seriousness in a State of Law. And that must appeal to all democrats, whichever their political choices are.

We ask for the attention and support of all the democratic people of Catalonia, Spain, Europe, and the World. We invite you to preserve the civic and peaceful attitude that has made us so strong over these years. We urge the”Smile Revolution” to flourish through events that will continue to be celebrated in Catalonia in the form of concentrations, “yellow dinners”, and concerts in the coming days and weeks. And we also ask for our hunger strike not to alter the spirit or celebration that these dates, close to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, bring to the majority of us.

We are grateful, finally, for the solidarity of all women and men who feel interpellated and committed to the effective defense of rights and freedoms, personal and collective.

 Together for dignity and until freedom is reached!

 Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull

Prison of Lledoners, December 1, 2018. >>

The Trial Against Catalan Political Prisoners Gets Closer

The countdown to the trial against Catalan political prisoners has already begun. This week itself ended the deadline for the defenses to ask for the revocation of the instruction, which will surely be dismissed by the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court. Thereafter, the trial court can present its conclusions from the investigations and the opening of the trial can be decreed. However, the prisoners’ defense will seek to block it until their appeals are resolved.

The defense estimates that the trial will begin in January. And that this could last for about two months, just before the campaign for local and European elections begin. However, they suspect that the Supreme Court could intend to initiate the trial in November in order to take the defense by surprise and undermine their strategy.

Until now, the opening of the trial has been delayed because the defense has appealed the instructions of Judge Llarena and the provisional orders of imprisonment. The recusations against the members of the court have already been rejected.

Given that there are local and European elections in May 2019, the Supreme Court is not expected to announce the final sentence for the Catalan political prisoners, which will likely be up to 25 years in prison for each one, until June or July. The court believes that the announcement of the sentences before the aforementioned elections could give pro-independence parties landslide victories, which would legitimize Catalonia’s independence. 

Meanwhile, the Catalan leaders Oriol Junqueras, Carme Forcadell, Jordi Turull, Dolors Bassa, Josep Rull, Quim Forn, Jordi Sànchez, Raül Romeva, and Jordi Cuixart are expected to remain in prison before the trial.

Additional Information About the Case

In the filings of the prosecution, the public prosecutor and VOX party will have to specify the crimes for which the defendants will be tried. Right now, the nine political prisoners are being prosecuted for rebellion and embezzlement – the latter, in the case of the Puigdemont government advisers. This is where the state prosecutor’s office can make a gesture of distension and reduce the classification of Crimes and Petitions of Penalties, despite the opposition of the Supreme Court prosecutors. It is not expected that the VOX party will do so, but a reduction in the rhetoric of the prosecutor’s office can lower the fervor surrounding the trial, just as it could open a crisis between the prosecutor’s office and the state prosecutor’s office by not doing so.

The Catalan Police Identify Organized Spanish Ultra-Right-Wing Squads Operating in Catalonia

At around 2 am on Friday, the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police) identified fourteen people in three vehicles, including a Spanish Civil Guard officer, in the Catalan region of the Ribera d’Ebre. The Catalan police were alerted by frightened neighbors, in what appeared to be a “paramilitary” squad formed by numerous individuals with covered faces and armed with knives and saws. They were removing yellow ribbons and other yellow symbols from the streets.

Once there, the police found cutters, hooks, saws, dark clothes, scarves, and maps with what appeared to be organized regular routes for removing yellow symbols from several Catalan towns, which demonstrates the existence of coordinated ultra-right- wing groups.

According to police sources, the material was confiscated and due diligence was undertaken in case anybody complains about the damages. The confiscated material also enabled the police to identify two more cars and their occupants in the town of Tivissa.

El Mon newspaper spoke to Jordi Jardí, the Mayor of Tivissa (one of the towns where the paramilitary squad appears to be operating regularly), who said:

This group of people removed the yellow ribbons that were located at the entrance of the municipality and the squares of the Paranova and the Portal de l’All. Jardín will not report the facts since it must be considered that they have not infringed any municipal property nor have they damaged any urban infrastructure.”

“They have not touched the yellow ribbons that are lit every night in the City Hall, and we are not thinking about removing them,” said the mayor. “Henceforth, the CDR of Tivissa and the region, which filled the squares of our town with yellow ribbons, are free to restore them,” he added. And Jardí said that the council will maintain the same attitude of “respect” toward these symbols.”

The Department of Home Affairs of the Catalan government has initiated actions against the members of the paramilitary squad for a serious infringement of Law 4/2015 of citizen security, which sanctions these actions with fines of 601 to 30,000 euros.

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Since last October, numerous citizens from various towns across Catalonia have been warning of the existence of violent para-military squads that, on occasion, enter private properties to remove banners calling for freedom for Catalan political prisoners, yellow ribbons, and other yellow elements. According to sources, they physically attack anyone who offers any kind of resistance or tries to stop their criminal acts. 

In the last few weeks, C’s and the PP have been accused of promoting and endorsing these kinds of violent paramilitary fascist squads. A few weeks ago, C’s launched a campaign to remove yellow ribbons and other symbols and “encouraged” these radicals groups to carry out more “violent” night operations across Catalonia.

Spanish Constitutional Court Blocks Puigdemont’s Investiture as President

On Saturday, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled that Carles Puigdemont can only be sworn in as president in person and with a juridical authorization prior to appearance in court. This decision, which sets a dangerous precedent, comes after the Spanish government pressured the court to rule in its favor.

According to ex-members of the Constitutional Court and prestigious jurists, the Constitutional Court violated its own rules by adopting precautionary measures against Puigdemont and four members of his cabinet since the Court only had the power to decide whether or not to consider Rajoy’s cabinet’s appeal.

Most of the current judges which form the Spanish Constitutional Court were directly appointed by the two largest Spanish political parties, PP and PSOE, which shows the high degree of politicization in the Spanish judicial system.

The Spanish government made a surprise announcement on Tuesday that it would appeal against Puigdemont’s candidacy for president in the Constitutional Court. This came after Rajoy said there was no legal basis for such a move a few days before.

Vice-President Santamaría alleged that a fugitive couldn’t be nominated as president without previously appearing in front of a judge. She added that there was also an ongoing search and arrest warrant issued against Puigdemont.

The Spanish Council of State formed by former ministers and lawyers ruled on Thursday that Puigdemont’s candidacy for president couldn’t be suspended until there is a firm judicial sentence against him since he retains his rights as an elected MP.

A Remote Investiture and Delegation of Votes

The Constitutional Court ruled against the remote investiture of Puigdemont since the presidential candidate must be physically in the Parliament during the debate. The Court also prohibited Puigdemont and the four ministers of his cabinet, who are in exile in Belgium, to delegate their votes for the investiture session.

Warning against the Catalan Parliament Bureau

The Constitutional Court also called on the members of the Catalan Parliament’s Bureau to respect its resolution, pointing out that whoever disobeys it will face criminal charges.

Appeal to the European Court of Human Rights

A few hours after learning about the resolution of the Constitutional Court, the Catalan lawyer of Puigdemont Cuevillas said that he would probably take the Constitutional Court decision to the European Court of Human Rights. He said it was a political decision which violates his client’s rights.

Numerous representatives of JxCat said, “ We will not propose [for president] a candidate other than Puigdemont. Plan A is Puigdemont; Plan B Puigdemont.”

Puigdemont’s reaction

“Even the Constitutional Court rejected the legal fraud that the Spanish government was perpetuating. More than one person should rectify the situation and end the politics once and for all. And if they are unable to do so, they should consider stepping down and giving way,” he tweeted.

The Spanish government also reacted to the news by welcoming the fact that the judges do not allow an investiture at a distance, which Madrid brands as “fraudulent.”

The CUP party calls on Catalan parliament speaker Torrent to “disobey”

The CUP party urged the Catalan Parliament president to disobey yesterday’s Constitutional Court resolution against Puigdemont’s candidacy for president. It added that they will only be present in the investiture session if Puigdemont is the candidate. Otherwise, they will attempt to block the formation of a new government which could lead to new elections.