Spanish state vs Catalonia: putting a political trial on trial
By Green Left, Feb 7th 2019 --> Read original article
On February 12, the trial of 12 Catalan politicians and social movement leaders involved in the October 1, 2017 independence referendum is set to begin in the Spanish Supreme Court.
The leaders face sanctions as harsh as 25 year’s jail for their alleged offences — rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of public funds.
It is the first of three trials. Other defendants, including former police chief, José Lluís Trapero, will face the National High Court. Those members of the Catalan parliament who allowed discussion and voting on the referendum enabling law will face the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC in its Catalan initials).
Nine of the defendants have been in preventive detention for between 12 and 15 months, with all their appeals for release on bail rejected.
The case will be decided by seven magistrates, led by Supreme Court chief justice Manuel Marchena.
Marchena was marked to become Spain’s top judge in a deal done between the governing Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the opposition People’s Party (PP). However, he declined the appointment as president of the General Council of the Judicial Power (CGPJ in its Spanish initials) to preside over the Catalan case.
The judges will hear from three prosecution teams — the prosecutor-general, the solicitor-general and the ”popular prosecution” of the far-right neo-Francoist party, Vox.
The popular prosecution is an institution enshrined in the Spanish constitution that allows individuals or organisations not directly involved in a case to participate in it on the grounds of public interest and/or defence of due legal process. Defence lawyers have asked for Vox to be removed from this role but their applications have been rejected.
In the case of the 18 Catalan leaders not in exile, the prosecutor-general is asking for a total of 177 years prison, the solicitor-general 116.5 (with the charge of rebellion dropped), Vox over 700.
According to Vox secretary-general Javier Ortega, who leads for them in court: “Spain is not in play, not for negotiation, not to be voted about. Spain is to be defended until the final consequences.”
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