Live Blog | Catalonia on Trial: The Spanish State vs. The Catalan 12

The nine Catalan leaders who have been in preventive detention for up to 15 months

Catalonia's right to self-determination: Europe's key struggle for democracy


Note on blog

This blog focusses on the trial in the Spanish Supreme Court of the 12 Catalan social and political leaders, who face up to 25 years jail for alleged offences of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of public funds.
During the trial, it will be updated daily or more frequently if needed.
 
It follows on three previous blogs on the Catalan struggle for self-determination, which provided detailed coverage of events in Catalonia from October 9 to November 3, 2017 (here), from November 11, 2017 to January 19, 2018 (here) and from January 30, 2018 to February 7, 2019 (here). Other sources on Catalonia in English can be found here.
Translation: Unless otherwise specified, translations are by the European Bureau of Green Left Weekly and Links, International Journal of Socialist Renewal

How to follow the trial of the Catalan 12

Introduction: See International Trial Watch's briefing on the trial here. See analysis of the political context of the trial here. Follow foreign language explanations of the trial on the Foreign Friends of Catalonia Twitter page, here.

Documentation: The following documents have been translated into English. 1. Prosecution Report of Public Prosecutor 2. Prosecution Report of the State's Attorney [Solicitor-General] 3. Statement of Defence of Jordi Cuixart (President, Òmnium Cultural) 4. Statement of Defence of former Vice-President Òriol Junqueras and former minister Raül Romeva 5. Bill of Indictment

Coverage in English: The Catalan public media corporation CCMA will be providing regular bulletins in English on the trial: for their backgrounder in English see following section


Backgrounder of the Catalan public media corporation CCMA

Who is on trial? The twelve defendants facing the Supreme Court and the six defendants who will face the High Court of Justice of Catalonia

What is the chronology of events? This chronology starts with the September 6 adoption by the Catalan parliament of the law enabling the referendum

What are the charges and the responses of the defences? The charges and possible penalties and the arguments of the defences explained

What are the phases of the trial process? The legal process to date and the phases that remain before a verdict is brought down


Week ending February 17


February 14 | Day 3: Rulings by chief judge Marchena and interrogation of Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn


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The presiding judges, with chief judge Manuel Marchena in the middle (Credit: Ara)
The presiding judges, with chief judge Manuel Marchena in the middle (Credit: Ara)

Rulings by chief judge Marchena

  • The court will not rule on defence accusations of violation of the rights of the defendants;

  • The defendants may give their evidence in Catalan, but without simultaneous translation because the court lacks the technical capacity;

  • The request for provisional release of the defendants is denied;

  • The defendants may sit behind their defence counsel;

  • Video evidence proferred by defence counsel with regard to violence on October 1 is accepted;

  • Puigdemont cannot be both defendant and witness in the trial: "Let's be serious".

  • Former PP interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido is accepted as a witness.

  • "The court will only accept questions about facts. It will not accept questions with regards to ideas or beliefs". [This with regard to the complaint of the defence that Civil Guard head David Baena operated in his own time as a social network troll under the pseudonym of Tácito.]

The session ends with a clash between Jordi Pena, counsel for Sànchez, Turull and Rull, over Marchena's rulings against accepting certain evidence. Marchena: "This court will not allow delaying tactics."


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February 14: former vice-president and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras gives evidence
February 14: former vice-president and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras gives evidence

Testimony of Oriol Junqueras

Junqueras exercises his right not to answer the questions of the prosecution and only answers the questions of his counsel, Andreu Van den Eynde.

He regrets the lack of simultaneous translation from Catalan, but appreciates the opportunity to speak in Castilian (Spanish) to Spanish society as a whole. He regards himself as a political prisoner and the victim of a political trial. The major points of his testimony are as follows:

  • "From my point of view nothing we have done is criminal. Absolutely nothing! It is obvious that the argumentation of the prosecutions does not hold up [...] Calling a referendum is not a crime. Voting is not a crime. Stopping it by force is."

  • "The Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) has always worked for individual and collective freedoms and defends independence for Catalonia to achieve a fairer society" and "without one case of corruption in 88 years".

  • "Nobody can doubt that we have always rejected violence because any noble political goal can be immoral if the means used to achieve it are indecent [...] [On October 1] the calls for non-violence were constant, continuous and explicit."


Tweet of the day

Here at the Supreme Court there's an interesting debate between defence lawyers and prosecutors about the right to self-determination. In the Congress and the Moncloa [prime minister's residence and seat of government] all they can talk about is legality. Very symptomatic of the confusion of powers.

--Former Catalan minister Jordi Turull


Junqueras explains that the rise of independence sentiment in Catalonia begins with the campaign by the PP against the 2006 Statute of Autonomy, adopted by the Catalan and Spanish parliaments and by referendum in Catalonia. The decision of the Constitutional Court on the Statute [in 2010] "devastated" it, especially where clauses that also appeared in the statutes of other regions were unilaterally changed by the court. The persistent and sustained rise of pro-independence sentiment requires negotiations with the Spanish State over a referendum, but any such negotiation was always rejected. The Advisory Council for the National Transition, which produced various "road maps" for Catalan independence and which is cited by the prosecution as proof of a secessionist conspiracy, does not cover the position of the ERC, which is for basing the struggle for independence on the 80% of the Catalan population that supports Catalonia's right to decide its future. More quotes:

  • "The proposal for a refendum is supported by a majority and consistently through time, but the chair on the other side [of the negotiating table] is always empty." [...] "This situation is not resolved by putting people in jail."

  • "Convinced that the ballot box formed part of the solution, and given that there was no-one on the other side of the table, we called the 2017 elections with a united pro-independence ticket [Together for the Yes (Junts pel Sí)]."

  • "[At the demonstration before the Catalan Department of Economy on September 20, 2017] the people had a peaceful, respectful attitude, they distributed carnations, they sang the Virolai, a religious hymn which in one of its verses refers to the Mother of God of Montserrat as the morning star of the Spanish--nothing liable to being called riotous."

  • "The taxpayers made no contribution at all to the cost of the referendum. It's not just me saying it: everyone says it."

  • "I saw the violence with which several members of the Civil Guard and the National Police behaved. It is obvious, it was seen on all the TV sets in the world how the people who were simply waiting outside the doors of a location or inside it were beaten, and how material prohibited by law was used, such as rubber bullets. There was unjustifiable and unnecessary violence, which contravened the legal order that required a measured and proportionate use of force."

  • "The result of October 1 was overwhelmingly in favour of independence and we maintained our commitment to dialogue with the Spanish government."

  • "The best way to have a good relation between Spain and Catalonia is to treat each other as equals."

Last words of Junqueras's intervention: "It is no crime to carry out a referendum [...] nor to work for or defend the independence of Catalonia. To defend it peacefully is no crime, and it is from that conviction that we have acted [...] How can it be a crime to work peacefully for a political option?"

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February 14: Former Catalan interior minister Joaquim Forn giving evidence
February 14: Former Catalan interior minister Joaquim Forn giving evidence

Testimony of Joaquim Forn

Forn agrees to answer the questions of the Prosecutor-General and the Solicitor-General, as well as those of his defence counsel, but not those of the popular prosecution Vox.

In agreeing to this examination by two of the three prosecutions, Forn accepts detailed questioning of his actions as minister in charge of the Catalan police (Mossos d'Esquadra) before, during and after the October 1 referendum. He accuses the prosecution of having a narrative of events "like a film script".

Here are his replies to the most important of these questions. He begins by acknowledging the authority of the Constitutional Court--which issued rulings prohibiting the referendum--but questions its impartiality, "given that it is made up of members nominated by parties".

  • Attitude to legal orders issued by Spanish Prosecutor-General's Office: "I implemented, on behalf of the government, all the orders received from the Prosecutor-General."

  • Were the four Catalan ministers who resigned from the Puigdemont government on July 15, 2017 expressing concern about the illegality of the referendum? "I doubt it: they all voted."

  • How could Forn as police minister support a referendum declared illegal by the Constitutional Court? "Politically I defended the referendum, but I left the execution of legal orders in the hands of the Mossos [...] "I made it very clear to president Puigdemont that the Mossos d'Esquadra would have to carry out orders, and he understood that." [...] "No activity or action in support of the referendum was carried out in my department [...] Nothing done by the Mossos was unconstitutional."

  • Aren't you a committed supporter of Catalan independence, as shown by your past activity and your membership of Òmnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC)? "I was arrested in 1989 for distributing leaflets at the opening of the Olympic Stadium. [...] I am a member of both [ANC and Òmnium] but have never taken part in any assembly or decision-making meeting."

  • Wasn't the point of the mass demonstration outside the Department of Economy on September 20 to block the Civil Guard search of the premises? I always understood it to be a demonstration, and an expression of protest against what was happening."

  • Didn't you coordinate this demonstration by talking to [then ANC president] Jordi Sànchez? "I spoke to Sànchez several times because I thought it would help in the work of mediation and reduce whatever sort of tension might be produced."

  • Didn't you view the police Civil Guard searches of September 20 as an attack on Catalonia? "They seem to me mistaken, but not an attack on Catalonia."

  • Weren`t the Mossos passively complicit with the demonstrators and organisers on October 1? "The Mossos were the only police force to present a plan for implementing the instructions of the Prosecutor-General [...] The Mossos carried out the orders to prioritise the security of the citizens and maintain peaceful social relations." [...]  They closed 297 polling stations on the day [nearly three times the number closed by the Civil Guard and Spanish National Police], [...] At no time did the Mossos expect generalised violence on the day." [...] "Pérez de los Cobos [Spanish interior minister official in charge of coordinating the overall police response to October 1] announced in a meeting on September 21 that he would appoint a police co-ordinator, when that job should have been done by the prosecutor, and he announced it on the following day and did that without calling a meeting of the Security Board [covering relations between Spanish and Catalan police services]. Do you find that normal?" [...] "The judge shelved the case against the Mossos for allegedly trying to incinerate documents related to the referendum." "If there was a bad response on the day, it was on the part of the Civil Guard and the Spanish National Police, in my opinion."

  • What was the status of the October 27 declaration of independence? "The idea was to seek a political, negotiated solution. My opinion was that if there was a possibility of getting some agreement, it should be done. But there was no guarantee on the part of the State that if elections were convened, the application of article 155 would be suspended, and that's when the strategy was revised and the declaration of independence was decided." [...] It was a political declaration and reaffirmed our commitment to the referendum."

Forn also pointed out inaccuracies in the prosecution's version of events, such as a mistranslation of a police circular in which "the referendum that is to take place on October 1" in Catalan becomes "the referendum that must take place on October 1" when rendered into Spanish in a document submitted as prosecution evidence.

In answer to his defence lawyer Xavier Melero, Forn makes the following points:

  • The October 27 declaration of independence was symbolic and an expression of political intent: "The resolutions were not published in the record of parliament or the Bulletin of State."

  • "At no time were the departments of the Generalitat [Catalan government] made aware of the plans of the Civil Guard and the Spanish National Police.

  • Forn's reaction to seeing the charges of the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard on television: " I explained the situation to him [Enric Millo, central government representative in Catalonia] and we had a heated discussion in which I asked him that he put a stop to these actions because they were having a very bad impact." Millo told Forn that "he had already done what he had to do" and the police operations stopped shortly after.


February 13 | Day 2: Presentation of prosecution arguments


  • The budget of the Spanish PSOE government is defeated in the Congress on the vote against of the Catalan parties, ERC and PDECat, raising the prospect of early elections in the Spanish State.

  • According to the Catalan government's Centre of Opinion Studies (CEO), 70.3% of Catalans regard the imprisonment and exile of Catalan leaders as unjust.


International actions and reactions: update 1


  • February 13: Hywell Williams, Plaid Cymru MP in the UK parliament, raises a point of order in the House of Commons about the trial: "These peaceful people are political prisoners held against their human rights for believing in self-determination. " The Speaker, John Bercow, comments that he had met his Catalan counterpart Carme Forcadell and that "this Chamber respects freedom of expression".

  • February 13: Spanish foreign affairs minister Josep Borrell calls for a campaign of opposition to "the black legend of Spain" that the Catalan independence movement is mounting.

  • February 13: (El Nacional) Iceland has become the first foreign country to publicly communicate its concern to Spain over the trial of pro-independence Catalan leaders. The country's foreign affairs minister, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, has "repeatedly" expressed their unease to Spanish authorities, he has told the newspaper Fréttablaðið.

"We have repeatedly expressed our concern to the Spanish authorities, most recently in January when the Icelandic ambassador to Spain attended a regular meeting at the Spanish foreign ministry. Catalan issues have also been repeatedly addressed with Spain's ambassador to Iceland, ”says Gudlaugur Thor.

The Icelandic government calls for them to look for a negotiated solution with full respect for human rights. "We will continue to monitor events closely and consult with our main international partners. I myself took up the question of Catalonia with Spain's then foreign minister last year when we met at the UN Human Rights Council, and the conversation has been continued by officials," he adds.

  • February 11: Spanish ambassador to the United States Santiago Cabanas holds meeting with US media and distributes the documents "12 Lies about Spain ... and the Facts".


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Prosecutors Javier Zaragoza (left) and Fidel Cadena (Credit: Ara)
Prosecutors Javier Zaragoza (left) and Fidel Cadena (Credit: Ara)

Lead prosecutor Javier Zaragoza dedicates most of his intervention to answering the defence counsels' argument that the trial represented a violation of fundamental human rights. Defence counsel arguments are aimed at creating a "distorted vision of reality" in order to "smear the reputation" of Spanish institutions and "put into question the democratic quality of a law-governed state". Some key quotes:

  • "In Catalonia Spanish court sentences and provisional rulings have been systematically flouted since [the participatory process of] November 9, 2014."

  • "[In the writing of the defence] it is stated that this will be test of democracy and of the capacity of democracy to tolerate political difference and peaceful citizen protest. That is not true. None of the accused is being prosecuted for their ideas, but for their deeds [...] Support for independence is not being judged, but the very serious events that took place in September and October last year."

  • "This is not a trial against democracy, it's a trial in defence of Spanish democracy and the constitutional order."

  • "The accused used illegal and even violent means to break down legal order [...] The accused called on citizens to construct human walls [and] unleash confrontation and a violent clash with the police."

  • "The accused used public funds for an illegal process."

  • "The violent events of October 1 should not be attributed to the forces of the State, but to those who mobilised thousands of citizens. [...] There was a legitimate and proportionate use of force by the police [...] there were only two serious injuries: one person suffered a heart attack and another was hit in the eye by a rubber bullet after throwing a barricade at the police."


Tweet of the day

First they involve the German police in a joint operation, then they flood the German court with documentation demanding extradition, afterwards when they are rejected, they withdraw the European warrant ... and now they say that it is Germany that is interfering in the Spanish jurisdiction.

— Carles Puigdemont


The trial itself is perfectly legitimate and meets all legal standards: it can be held in the Spanish Supreme Court [and not the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC)] because some of the offences committed took place outside of Catalonia; all complaints of partiality have been over-ruled [by the Supreme Court full bench and/or the Constitutional Court]; the public declaration of 120 law professors against the partiality of the trial process was "not by the most prestigious"; derisive comments by instructing judge Pablo Llarena "have been taken out of context"; and the Regional High Court of Schleswig-Holstein in deciding not to extradite Carles Puigdemont on the grounds of rebellion "acted by failing to fulfil what the European framework establishes [...] it was interference in the jurisdiction of Spanish courts".

Zaragoza insists that the UN Decaration on Political and Civil Rights in support of the right to national self-determination, to which Spain is signatory, does not apply in the case of Catalonia: none of the nations "surrounding us" support it; it applies to countries in a state of "domination"; and it does not apply to countries with a high degree of regional government.

Zaragoza concludes by stating that the defence's complaints about the lack of dialogue from the Spanish state and govement are self-interested: "Dialogue is doubtless the basis of democracy but always on the condition that it takes place in a constitutional framework. Enforced dialogue outside the the bounds of legality is not acceptable in a democratic society [...] It does not seem accidental that blaming the state for a supposed lack of desire to undertake dialogue operates as a factor leading to this unilateral process and this completed secession that, fortunately, was neutralised."

Fidel Cadena, second speaker for the prosecution, insists that the right to self-detemination cannot be applied in the case of the Spanish State. Some quotations:

  • "All means everyone and a part cannot decide about what belongs to everyone [...] Segovia [city in Castilla y León] does not just belong to the Segovians [...] and Catalonia doesn't just belong to the separatists."

  • "There is no Catalan sovereignty, there is only Spanish sovereignty. Sovereignty of the Catalan people is not possible."

  • "The Mossos d'Esquadra [Catalan police] were incorporated into plan for rebellion."

Cadena insists that the speakership panel of the Catalan parliament, headed by speaker Carme Forcadell, also acted to subvert the Spanish constitutional order when it did not block the discussion of bills that it knew were unconstitutional. He also justifies preventive detention on the grounds of the risk of repeat offence and of flight to Belgium, increased by the creation there of the Council for the Republic.

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Rosa María Soane, intervening for the Solicitor-General's Office
Rosa María Soane, intervening for the Solicitor-General's Office

The intervention of Rosa María Soane, from the Solicitor-General's Office is dedicated to vindicating the correctness of the trial's procedures: "There was a desire to imply that behaviour and attitudes that have to do with basic rights have been criminalised, criminalising freedom of ideology and political belief, the exercise of freedom of expression, of the right to demonstrate, to assembly, of the right to protest [...] Nothing could be further from reality. We find ourselves in this courtroom because actions have taken place that permit us to classify them as of a criminal type. This is a criminal trial with all legal guarantees in place."

Soane asserts that there is no absolute right to double instance. She also rejects the appeal of counsel defending Jordi Cuixart, to the effect that he cannot be charged with embezzlement of public funds because he is not a public employee [the Solicitor-General's Office dropped the charge of rebellion against Cuixart but added that of embezzlement]. She defends the right of the office to amend charges in the light of new evidence.

Soane also accuses the defence of imputing partiality and lack of due process to the trial proceedings in order to artifically create grounds for an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): "Once again, out of eagerness to internationalise this cause, we find ourselves before a kind of creative community law in accordance with which we are aiming to bring before the ECHR questions to do with strictly internal judicial procedures."

She also rejects the argument that statements by opponents of the Catalan leaders to the effect that they are already guilty prejudices their chance of a fair trial, and that the ECHR had found this to be so in other cases of public notoriety. Also, the fact that evidence uncovered by the search warrants of the former judge of Barcelona's Court Number 13 had not been presented in that court--and hence could have bene questioned by defence as to its admissability--is irrelevant. All such evidence, and its authors, can be questioned by defence counsel here.

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Lawyers for the people's prosecution, Vox. Pedro Fernández (left) and Vox organisational secretary Javier Ortega
Lawyers for the people's prosecution, Vox. Pedro Fernández (left) and Vox organisational secretary Javier Ortega

Pedro Fernández, leading for Vox, asks presiding judge Marchena to order the removal of the yellow ribbon being warn by Jordi Sànchez: "These sort of symbols have to be removed from a courtroom context on the principle of respect and consideration for the operation of the law."

Marchena, who seems to have known that the request was coming, answers with a ruling based on ECHR ruling overturning bans by national courts on participants in trials who are not lawyers or judges wearing religious symbols. "It is not a question of religious symbols, but the court interprets that it is an ideological symbol and as a result will not put any obstacle in the way of the accused wearing the symbol, given that one of the accused is wearing it."

Fernández on the events of September-October 2017: "We are talking about an uprising. No violation of basic rights was involved [...] Freedom of expression is subject to limits imposed by territorial integrity. Any attempt against the territorial integrity of a nation is incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations."



February 12 | Day 1: The trial begins

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The defendants
The defendants

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Catalan president Quim Torra greets the defendants
Catalan president Quim Torra greets the defendants

Day One: Presentation of defence counsel arguments

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​Andreu Van den Eynde, lawyer for Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva, opened defence attacks on the injustices of the trial process
​Andreu Van den Eynde, lawyer for Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva, opened defence attacks on the injustices of the trial process

Defence lawyer Andreu Van den Eynde opens the trial claiming that it violates nearly all fundamental rights, including the right to a fair trial, and that important defence witnesses, such as the Catalan Ombudsman, and evidence have been arbitrarily excluded by the presiding judges. He describes the pre-trial procedure, gathering of evidence and operation of the Prosecutor-General's Office as "vaudeville" and states that the Spanish-patriotic media had found the defendants guilty before the trial started. He calls on the judges to abandon the trial and return the problem of Catalonia's relation to the Spanish State to the political sphere, as the Canadian High Court did with Quebec.

Key comments by Van den Eynde:

1. "There is no international or European Union law that prohibits the secession of an entity that is part of a state. [...] Self-determination is synonymous with peace, not war."

2. "The case represents an attack on political dissidence."

3. "The presumption of innocence of the accused has been violated and their suspension as MPs or the fact that they were prevented from standing for elected position makes them the equivalent of terrorists."

4. "The case opened by [Barcelona court number] 13 is a violation of rights to make one blush with shame [...] It represented an open-ended search for suspects because it was broadened to include the charges of rebellion and sedition without providing any substantiation."

5. "The court will have to explain why it has restricted all fundamental rights in this case, even the freedom of religion, because Oriol Junqueras couldn't even go to [prison] mass."

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Jordi Pina, defence counsel for Jordi Sànchez, Josep Rull and Jordi Turull
Jordi Pina, defence counsel for Jordi Sànchez, Josep Rull and Jordi Turull

According to Jordi Pina, counsel for Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, the defendants have suffered "loss of the right to effective legal care". Proofs of this are:

  • The assignment of the case to the Supreme Court itself, instead of to the Supreme Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC). This has denied the defendants the right of appeal to a higher court (right of "double instance"). Pina points out that chief judge Marchena had himself ruled in favour of double instance in the case of the trial of the Catalan politicians for allowing the "participatory process" of November 9, 2014.

  • The revealed partiality of the presiding judges, shown in the description in the court's decisions in relation to appeals in the case: "There is a phrase in two decisions made by the judge arraigning the case in which the phrase 'the stategy that we're suffering from' is used. That is not a mistake but the expression of someone who is writing what he or she feels [...] It is common sense, when a magistrate uses the first person plural to refer to events that are under investigation, that it is reasonable for those who are being investigated to have doubts about his or her impartiality."

  • The participation in the hearing of a judge,  Francisco Monterde, whose professional association, the conservative Professional Association of the Magistracy, had been issuing regular tweets against what it called "a secessionist plot".

  • The fact that four of the judges were involved in pre-trial decisions about appeals for release of the defendants from preventive detention, which required them to make a judgment as to the charges of rebellion and sedition.

  • The Whatapps message of PP Senate leader claiming that "we're controlling the trial via the back door" and the letter from chief justice Carlos Lesmes, congratulating Juan Antonio Ramírez Sunyer, the investigating magistrate of Barcelona Court Number 13, for his "patriotism" in issuing search warrants--unable to be challenged legally--that empowered the Civil Guard and the Spanish National Police to hunt down evidence for the trial.

  • The fact that the various defence counsel still had not got access to all the material the prosecution was using as the basis for its case, violating a basic, universally recognised , legal norm.

  • The impounding for four days by the administration of Soto de Real prison of the laptops of the accused.

  • The refusal to accept evidence for the defence. He offers the court a pen drive of images and videos of October 1, to enable it to decide where responsibility lies for the violence of the day. He also re-offers media coverage, refused as evidence by the court, of the pacifist consictions of Jordi Sànchez.

  • The refusal of the court to summon King Philip VI, author of an October 3, 2017 address to the Spanish nation against the Catalan process, as a witness.

  • The refusal of the court to accept former Catalan president Carles Puigdemonst as a witness.

Pina also complains about the refusal of the court to provide simultaneous translation into Catalan.

He concludes that the dropping by instructing judge Pablo Llarena of arrest warrants for all those Catalan politicians in exile confirms that doubts about the validity of the case exist in the Supreme Court. He concludes: "Behave as judges, not saviours of the Fatherland."

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Benet Salellas, counsel for Jordi Cuixart and former CUP MP, and Olga Arderiu, counsel for Carme Forcadell (Credit: Ara)
Benet Salellas, counsel for Jordi Cuixart and former CUP MP, and Olga Arderiu, counsel for Carme Forcadell (Credit: Ara)

Benet Salellas, counsel for Jordi Cuixart, demands that all charges that violate basic recognised human rights be dropped: "If basic human rights are on trial, the message to the citizens is that it is dangerous to exercise them."  He asserts that there is a recognised right to national self-determination, but no recognised right to preserve national unity.

The whole trial has been designed to "get the enemy" of the Spanish State and this has led to innumerable breaches of due process, and to illegal behaviour by the Civil Guard. "A good part of the searches of September 20 were done without legal warrant". What warrants had been issued were violated. For example, the Civil Guard had a warrant to search four offices in the Catalan Department of Economy on September 20, but spent 22 hours searching the whole building. The prosecution case also details all injuries suffered by Civil Guards and Police on October 1, but asserts that injuries suffered by those defending the polling stations were "manipulated".

Salellas concludes: "This entire penal process runs counter to the very essence of a democratic, law-governed state and represents a collective setback for the democratic Spanish state."

Olga Arderiu, counsel for Carme Forcadell, former speaker of the Catalan parliament, also denounces that she has not had access to all the material being used by the prosecutions as the basis for their case. She  stresses that the functions exercised by Carme Forcadell as speaker of the Catalan parliament were those that any speaker would have had to carry out, and that the trial violates parliamentary immunity. "The votes of the Chamber have to be protected." The defendants are being treated as if they had already been found guilty, she adds, referring to the gloating of former Spanish deputy prime minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría to the effect that, after the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of preventive detention, "we've chopped off the independence movement".

Arderiu also questions why Forcadell is being tried by the Supreme Court while the rest of the speakership panel will be tried by the TSCJ. "We wouldn't like to think that they are not being tried by the Supreme Court to avoid the sight of their being only tried for disobedience while Forcadell is accused of rebellion [...] If Forcadell's actual behavior is identical, she is being tried for her position and her political convictions. And that is discriminatory behaviour."

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Mariano Bergés (right), counsel for former social services minister Dolors Bassa, and Josep Riba (left), counsel for former Catalan attorney-general Carles Mundó.
Mariano Bergés (right), counsel for former social services minister Dolors Bassa, and Josep Riba (left), counsel for former Catalan attorney-general Carles Mundó

Mariano Bergés, counsel for Dolors Bassa, stresses that much of the defence evidence has been ruled inadmissable at the same time as the legal police had exceeded their function, not just locating evidence that had been asked for by the examining magistrate but deciding themselves whether material was evidence or not. As for the charge of rebellion, "Violence is violence and not something else. [...] What took place in Catalonia was not rebellion. It is not rebellion to come together to protest against the constitutional order."

Bergés also attacked Bassa's preventive detention. "None of her personal circumstances changed, she didn't try to flee. When she was summonsed to appear the first time she was in Belgium and returned. And afterwards, when they summonsed her again, having already been released, she returned again. She had fulfilled all the conditions [for release on bail], had attended all the summonses and nothing had changed in her behaviour."

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Judith Gené, counsel for former Catalan minister of state, Meritxell Borràs
Judith Gené, counsel for former Catalan minister of state, Meritxell Borràs

Judith Gené, defending former minister of state Meritxell Borràs, against the charge of embezzlement of public funds, also complains about not being supplied with evidence being used by the prosecution: "We don't understand why we have been denied the evidence [...] copies of the injunctions to which the administration replied regarding the crime of embezzlement." 

February 12: Catalan president Quim Torra's comment on the trial (in English, starts at 36 minutes, 13 seconds)

February 12: Also a day of demonstrations against the trial

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February 12: Girona
February 12: Girona

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February 12: Brussels
February 12: Brussels

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CUP parliamentary spokesperson Carles Riera's one-person protest against the trial
February 12: CUP parliamentary spokesperson Carles Riera's one-person protest against the trial


Protest in support of the defendants

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Health workers protesting against the trial outside Barcelona's Hospital Clínic.
Health workers protesting against the trial outside Barcelona's Hospital Clínic. Similar pickets were held outside many workplaces at noon today. (Credit: Ara)


Letter to Òmnium Cultural members from Soto de Real Jail

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Dearest members,

This Tuesday the Judgment of Democracy begins and the first thing I want to say is that we are more united and stronger than ever.

Last Friday, early in the morning, we were able to hug Carmen and Dolors: it was just for a few minutes, but you can imagine that it was an unforgettable moment. We made the journey together to Madrid, isolated in sealed compartments of just over one square metre. It was impossible to see each other, but we sent one other messages of courage and mutual support. We were also listening to your shouts and believe me when I say that you made us feel special.

Preventive detention brings with it a feeling of terrible helplessness, and the court that will judge us has vetoed the testimony of international experts and Nobel Peace Prize laureates. But all these injustices further strengthen our convictions. We will unmask the connivance of the powers of the State with the heirs of the Franco regime. Vox, the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Solicitor -General go hand in hand against the exercise of fundamental rights, which makes the trial and the sentences an exceptional opportunity for moving towards the Republic. Permanent mobilisation becomes absolutely essential.

We as prisoners do not represent the proclamation of any defeat, and against those who, full of fear, wave the flag of repression, neither hate nor rancour, but the opposite. They cry out because they are full of fear, but they can never silence the desire for dialogue. It is important that we do not leave anyone by the wayside, that all democrats in the State, in Europe and in the whole world also feel called upon to take a stand.

Our priority is not to get out of jail, but to resolve the political conflict. With a citizenry empowered as on October 1, 2017, I am convinced that this society will be what it decides to be. Our guides are exceptional people such as Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Thoreau, Hannah Arendt or Xirinacsi himself, who, under much more adverse circumstances than ours, decided not to give up pursuing their dreams.

In the months that are to come, more generosity, empathy and sense of our State than ever. Let’s rediscover each other in our unity and let’s swear that, so long as the state does not respond to that 80% of Catalan society that wants to resolve the political conflict at the ballot box, we will have to keep exercising civil disobedience as often as necessary.

Health, tenderness and always forward!

Jordi Cuixart

President of Òmnium Cultural

Soto del Real, Prison

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Footnote

i Lluís Maria Xirinacs i Damians (1931-2008) was a Catalan priest, pacifist, Senator and exponent of non-violent disobedience to advance the cause of Catalan independence.


Ferreres (Ara, February 11)

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Grand Opening, February 12. 'The HarderThe Fall': 'Sold Out, No Seats For Any Critcism' (Ferreres, Ara)
Grand Opening, February 12. 'The Harder They Fall': 'Sold Out, No Seats For Any Criticism'

Week ending February 10


February 10

  • A poll done for the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), with a 1500 sample, shows that 41-seat Barcelona Council, presently run by the minority Barcelona en Comú (BeC) government of mayoress Ada Colau, would be even more fragmented after the May council elections. The result: ERC 9 seats; BeC 8-9 seats; former French premier Manuel Valls platform (supported by Citizens) 8 seats; Party of Socialists of Catalonia (PSC, sister party to the PSOE) 6 seats; the platform led by jailed Catalan independence leader Joaquim Forn 5 seats; People's Unity Lists (CUP) 3 seats; Vox 2 seats. The PP would not win a seat.

  • (El Nacional) Spanish right's Madrid march falls flat

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Leaders of the Spanish right at protest demonstration against PSOE prime minister Pedro Sánchez for negotiating with Catalan government
Leaders of the Spanish right at protest demonstration against PSOE prime minister Pedro Sánchez for negotiating with Catalan government

February 7


Keeping up with Catalonia in English