By Greg Russell
OBSERVERS at the trial of Catalan independence leaders have again voiced concerns over the refusal by presiding judge Manuel Marchena to allow defence lawyers to use video footage from the October 2017 referendum in their cross-examination of police witnesses.
In their report yesterday, the team from International Trial Watch (ITW) said: “This limitation has had particularly worrying effects this week.”
They said that in their statements, National Police officers had repeatedly used language to “artificially construct” a narrative of crowd hostility and resistance, but denied the “disproportionate use of force”.
A quirk of the Spanish justice system allows anyone to become a co-accuser and take part in court proceedings, as Vox have done in the Catalan leaders’ trial, gaining a golden opportunity to put their anti-separatist agenda on display
Alasdair Fotheringham - 8th April 2019
When 12 Catalan pro-independence leaders filed into Spain’s Supreme Court in Madrid this February and sat down on its smart, burgundy-coloured benches, media and public interest in the “trial of the century,” as it has been dubbed here in Spain, could not have been higher.
The 12, including former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, face charges including rebellion, sedition and the misuse of public funds, mostly linked to the illegal pro-independence referendum in October 2017. Rebellion alone carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.
In the latest episode of Insiders, we visited the southern Spanish region of Andalucía where the far-right Vox party is gaining a foothold. Ahead of the upcoming EU election, we visited the town of La Linea de la Concepcion to speak to the local population.
A routine patrol takes place above the shores of the town of La Linea de la Concepcion. In recent months, the Spanish police have stepped up their response to narcotics trafficking. The area is a gateway for illegal drugs coming into Europe.
With unemployment at high levels, young people are able to make thousands of euros a day by drug smuggling. Euronews spoke to a local policeman about the problem
By Thomas S. Harrington
This conversation occurred in Belgium, where Puigdemont now lives. We spoke in Catalan; the translation is mine.
Why haven’t more European states backed your cause?
It’s quite normal that they shouldn’t. Spain is their partner in the EU. We knew from the beginning that the first instinct of any EU member state would be to back their fellow partner, or at the very least not challenge them. We also understand that many member states don’t have the traditions that, for example, Great Britain has for resolving such things. Many are fearful of national movements within their borders. France has a tremendous fear of this, as does Italy. Finally, don’t forget that Europe is a more a commercial project than a political one, and the economic sectors value stability above all. Thus, is not surprising that in Europe there is not a great deal of interest in upholding the fundamental right of self-determination.
Might it be time to revisit the debate of the 1990s, which some of us still remember, about whether Europe should be a union of states or a union of nations or peoples?
I believe there is a very interesting debate in the offing about what exactly is a nation. We have the classic definition of a group of people conjoined by a linguistic or cultural unity and historical continuity living in a contiguous geographical territory. Catalonia obviously meets these basic criteria. But things today have now gotten much more sophisticated because of the creation of new identities that do not hinge so heavily on the matter of language. We are now seeing the development of non-territorial nations — for example, through social networks. These tools are creating identities and communities that have found cohesion thanks to these bonds. So in the fourth industrial revolution, extra-territorial states may become a reality.
That said, the people-nation or the culture-nation continues to be a reality, but one in evolution. Catalonia is one of the historic nations of Europe, with its roots in the Middle Ages. But it has evolved, and this has been the key to its survival. As a small nation, threatened by two great nations, France and Spain, both of which have tried to eliminate its language, Catalonia has adapted and refused to close in upon itself and cling to fossilized realities from its foundational period.Read more
By Thomas S. Harrington
Carles Puigdemont led Catalonia's 2017 attempt to break away from Spain. He wants Americans to understand why
The Belgian city of Waterloo has long had outsized connotations. It is where one of the greatest European campaigns of social re-engineering came to a screeching halt on June 18, 1815. Napoleon’s defeat in the fields surrounding the city was so stunning that “Waterloo” remains a byword for any and all manner of unmitigated disasters.
I had come here to talk with a key protagonist of a more recent attempt to rearrange the political map of Europe: Carles Puigdemont, the exiled Catalan president. A journalist by trade and a political leader as a matter of destiny, the 56-year-old Puigdemont has lived in exile since fleeing the Spanish police two years ago. After an intense seven-year campaign of street mobilizations and a popularly organized referendum in October 2017, Madrid responded with a premeditated campaign of violence. The pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament, led by Puigdemont, nonetheless kept its promise: It declared independence from Spain later in the same month. Within minutes, the Spanish Senate voted to dissolve the Catalan parliament and schedule new elections to replace it.
Puigdemont slipped over the French border within days of these events, resurfacing in Brussels with six members of his cabinet. All others in his government remained in Catalonia and are now in the dock in Spain’s Supreme Court awaiting their fates. Despite gaping holes and inconsistencies in the state’s case against them for rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds, it is widely expected all of those currently on trial will be found guilty and will serve long prison terms.
I had long wanted to interview Puigdemont. Our meeting was arranged through intermediaries in the very potent civil society movement for independence. When I finally arrived at the House of the Republic in Waterloo, where Puigdemont now lives, it reminded me of a faux–French provincial mansion that would not look out of place in a subdivision in Maryland.
Read full article here
By Greg Russell
SIX international observers at the trial of Catalan pro-independence leaders have criticised the court for allowing some of the defendants’ rights to be ignored.
In their report into the first week of the trial, which resumes today, they said members of the extreme-right Vox party were in charge of organising the crowds attempting to get into the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid.
On the second day following a number of complaints, the police took over that task, but the observers said that strengthened their earlier call for space to be set aside for them.
Independent: Spain’s trial of Catalan separatists is worse than an outrage – it is a terrible mistake
Read full article here
Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish prime minister, should realise that this is not the best way to defeat demands for Catalan independence
The Spanish government’s handling of the Catalonian independence movement is worse than a human rights outrage; it is a mistake.
The trial of a dozen separatist leaders on charges including “rebellion” and “sedition”, charges carrying sentences of up to 25 years in prison, ought to be unthinkable in country that is an established member of the European Union and a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights.
From the beginning, from the confrontational way in which the Spanish police handled peaceful demonstrations in Catalonia, the authorities in Madrid have got this wrong. They responded to the attempts by the devolved parliament in Barcelona to seek independence with a heavy-handed refusal to respect free expression and democratic, non-violent demands.
Read full article here
Today 12 Catalan leaders go on trial in Spain’s Supreme Court, facing the medieval-sounding charges of rebellion and sedition. Their supposed crime: organising a democratic referendum on Catalan independence in October 2017.
It is impossible for us not to see this referendum through the lens of the UK’s current political context. And there is plenty of parallels that can be drawn. Perhaps you find some solace in the idea that other states are also facing political crises as a result of referendums.