The trial against the Catalan leaders enters its second week


The trial of the leaders of the Catalan self-determination movement, which began on February 12, enters its second week at the Spanish Supreme Court. The first of the accused to declare were the former Vice-president of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras; and the former interior minister, Joaquim Forn. On Tuesday, it is the turn of the former Catalan government spokesperson, Jordi Turull, and the former foreign affairs minister, Raül Romeva.

“I’m a political prisoner”

“I’m convinced that I’m being accused for my ideas and not for my actions,” said Oriol Junqueras when he declared the first week of the trial. Nine of the tried Catalan leaders are accused of rebellion against the Spanish state. According to the prosecutors, they used violence to achieve their political goals. Yet, Junqueras forcefully denied the accusation: “Never, never, never. We’ve always rejected violence,” he said, adding that “a noble political goal can become immoral if you use incorrect mechanisms to achieve it.”

“We need a political solution”

Junqueras further said that “most Catalans agree: we need a political solution, which needs to be voted on, and the result must be respected,” arguing that the problem won’t be solved by jailing people.

On the other hand, the Interior Minister, Forn, who is accused of not doing enough to stop the vote at the referendum of October 1, said that “nothing of what the Catalan police did on September 20 or October 1 went against the Spanish constitution.”

The former Catalan government spokesperson, Jordi Turull, and the former foreign affairs minister, Raül Romeva, will testify on Tuesday. In his testimony, Turull maintained that pushing for independence was not against the law: “It’s not abnormal to try to peacefully and democratically deliver on what you pledged to the Catalans.”

Next in line

The former ministers Josep Rull (territory) and Dolors Bassa (work and social affairs) will be the next to testify after them, presumably on Wednesday. And the former ministers Meritxell Borràs (governance and institutional relations), Carles Mundó (justice) and Santi Vila (business and knowledge). They are the only ones not facing rebellion charges – although they are charged with misuse of public funds and spent up to a month in pre-trial detention in late 2017.

After them, Jordi Sànchez and the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, will be heard. The last of the defendants to testify will be the former Catalan Parliament president, Carme Forcadell. They could testify as early as this Friday.

‘Crucial’ evidence missing in independence trial

International observers have issued a report that evaluates the first week of the trial. The platform warns that “the accusations do not take into account that the actions of the defendants could be protected by fundamental rights”, and argues that by accusing them of committing a crime the prosecution is “upending the constitutional order that is required when fundamental rights are at stake”.
International Trial Watch warns that there is evidence that has not been accepted despite being considered “essential” by the defence, something that could violate the “right to use the relevant means of evidence.” “Whether it causes material helplessness will have to be evaluated,” the observers say. They also criticize that a “procedural anomaly” is taking place, because there is documentation that the prosecution possesses but the defence doesn’t.

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