The trial against 12 pro-independence leaders for allowing the 1-O referendum in 2017 has come to an end this Wednesday. 4 months,
52 sessions, 422 witnesses and thousands of exhibited images later.
9 of the accused, who include former Catalan VP Oriol Junqueras, the Speaker of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell and activists Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, are accused of rebellion, which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
The defendants addressed the Court on their closing statements and insisted on the peaceful nature of the pro-independence movement, calling for the case to return to the political sphere rather than being discussed in the court.
Junqueras: “This should return to the sphere of politics”
“I genuinely believe that the best thing for all of us – for Catalonia, for Spain, for Europe, for everyone – would be to see this issue returned to the sphere of politics – good politics – an area it should never have left,” said Junqueras. “Voting, or defending the republic in parliament, cannot constitute a crime”, he added.
The state prosecutor has repeatedly described the push for secession as a coup d’etat and has insisted on the violent nature of the pro-independence movement to sustain the rebellion charges. “The alleged scenario of violence is absurd”, said Andreu Van den Eynde, a lawyer for Junqueras and for Raül Romeva, the former Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs. “We have two destroyed patrol cars [during the 20-S protests] and they call it the apocalypse”, he added.
Defence lawyer: “The alleged scenario of violence is absurd”
In this vein, Romeva described himself as a “political prisoner” and asked judges to ignore the “exaggerations and distortions” made by prosecutors to “punish an ideology”. “Today it is us, but tomorrow it can be anybody”, he warned.
Activist Jordi Cuixart’s lawyer, Marina Roig insisted on this premise. “Criminalising popular mobilisation is a mistake that can bring irremediable consequences for the exercise of the right to demonstrate in Spain.”
Cuixart: “We will do it again”
“The right to protest is a must. Protesting is necessary in order to make progress and move forward”, said activist Jordi Cuixart. “Civil disobedience is not the problem: the problem is civil obedience instead, which allows refugees to die in the sea and the far-right to judge us, the democrats”, he stated.
Cuixart also assured that he didn’t regret what he did and that he will do exactly the same, calling people to participate in the referendum and express their political will, because this was the correct thing to do. “We will do it again”, he added saying that the will of the people won’t be defeated by a court.
“I’m convinced I’m being judged for who I am and not for what I’ve done”, said Carme Forcadell. Before being appointed Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Forcadell was the leader the grassroots association Catalan National Assembly, one of the main organisers of the massive pro-independence mobilisations from 2012 to 2015. “My role was not different from that of my colleagues in the Parliament’s board and yet I’m being judged here while they are being trialed in Catalonia’s Supreme Court”, she said.
Forcadell: “I’m being judged for who I am”
Forcadell always insisted that she was not part of the Government and thus she was not involed in the decision making at all. “This court insists on involving me in meetings which I never attended and accusing me of sending messages which I never sent”, she denounced.
Finally, Forcadell pointed out that “it is not for the Parliament’s board to decide what should be debated in the chamber”. “We can’t limit the citizens’ rights and freedoms and turn the Parliament into a censor body. Censorship must never enter the Chamber”, she concluded .