14th October 2019
Oriol Junqueras
Barcelona News Catalonia News Madrid News Main News

Prosecutors: ‘rebellion’, up to 25 years jail

Spain’s Public Prosecutor called Friday for Catalan independence leaders to be jailed for up to 25 years on charges of rebellion or misuse of public funds over last year’s failed secession bid.

In a statement ahead of an upcoming Supreme Court trial, the prosecution service said it was seeking prison sentences against 12 Catalan leaders ranging from seven to 25 years, the latter jail term being sought for former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras.

But in a sign Spain’s socialist government disagreed, the Attorney General‘s office announced it would ask for just 12 years jail for Junqueras, accusing him of sedition and misuse of public funds rather than the more serious charge of rebellion.

Oriol Junqueras
Former Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras, arriving at the National Court in Madrid on 2 November 2017, to be questioned for his role in the Catalan referendum of 1 October. In pre-trial detention for a year, Spain’s Public Prosecutor has now cited charges of rebellion and seeks 25 years in jail for him. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP)

The sensitive trial is expected to start in early 2019 – more than a year after Catalan leaders attempted to break from Spain in October 2017 by staging a referendum despite a court ban and subsequently proclaiming independence.

Spain’s then conservative government moved swiftly to depose the Catalan executive, dissolve the regional parliament and call snap local elections in December. Some Catalan leaders such as deposed regional president Carles Puigdemont fled abroad, while others like Junqueras remained and were put into custody pending the trial.

‘They can lock us up in here for years and years, but it will not weaken the desire for freedom,’ Junqueras said in a letter on Thursday.

Apart from Junqueras, prosecutors want two influential Catalan civic leaders, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, and former regional parliamentary speaker Carme Forcadell jailed for 17 years.

In a separate case, prosecutors said they were seeking four to 11 years jail against former leaders of the Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, including ex-police chief Josep Lluis Trapero, who is also accused of rebellion.

ALSO READ: Supreme Court orders trial of Catalan leaders

Catalonia’s current separatist leader Quim Torra reacted angrily against the jail terms sought for ‘good people, peaceful people’.

‘Does anyone think that the two million independence supporters will just disappear by demanding (a total of) 200 years of jail for pro-independence leaders?’ he asked.

‘Intimidating force’

In its statement, the prosecution service said pro-independence leaders had planned to use all possible means to achieve secession, ‘including – knowing that the state wouldn’t accept this situation – any violence needed to secure this criminal result’.

It said separatist leaders had instigated ‘big citizen mobilisations’ that represented an ‘intimidating force’ and had also used the regional police force of 17,000 agents, who followed their orders.

ALSO READ: One year on, ‘Jordis’ remain in pre-trial jail

The charge of rebellion has caused controversy in Spain, not just among those who support Catalan independence but further afield among legal experts.

According to Spanish law, rebellion is ‘rising up in a violent and public manner’, to among other things ‘breach, suspend or change the constitution’ or ‘declare independence for part of the (Spanish) territory’.

ALSO READ: Focus: one year after Catalan independence bid

Military officers behind a 1981 attempted coup in Spain were found guilty of rebellion, for instance.

But many legal experts contest the use of rebellion in the Catalan case, saying there was no violence during the secession bid, bar that waged by Spanish police on 1 October 2017 as they tried to stop people from voting in the banned referendum.

Catalan leaders in jail
Catalan politicians and civic leaders currently in pre-trial jail From top left to right: Raul Romeva, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Turull, Oriol Junqueras, Josep Rull. Bottom left to right: Jordi Cuixart, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa and Jordi Sanchez. (Photos by AFP)

Spain’s justice minister acknowledged the controversy on Friday, telling reporters there was a ‘legal, even social debate on what happened in Catalonia in September and October last year’.

‘This debate also took place at the attorney general’s office,’ Dolores Delgado said, pointing out that it had decided to press charges of sedition, misuse of public funds and disobedience against Catalan leaders, and not rebellion.

She denied it was a political decision on the part of the Socialist government, which is in a minority in parliament and depends on other lawmakers, including from Catalan separatist parties, to pass bills or approve the budget.

But the right-wing opposition led by the People’s Party (PP) accused the government of bowing to separatist pressure to secure support in parliament.

In a tweet, conservative lawmaker Pablo Casado accused Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of being ‘hostage to coup plotters’ and ‘no longer legitimate to lead the government’.

This is the full list of the proposed sentences by the Spanish Public Prosecutor:

Catalan government

1. Oriol Junqueras (in pre-trial prison): rebellion, 25 years in jail, 25 years barred from office

2. Joaquim Forn (in pre-trial prison): rebellion, 16 years in jail, 16 years barred from office

3. Dolors Bassa (in pre-trial prison): rebellion, 16 years in jail, 16 years barred from office

4. Jordi Turull (in pre-trial prison): rebellion, 16 years in jail, 16 years barred from office

5. Josep Rull (in pre-trial prison): rebellion, 16 years in jail, 16 years barred from office

6. Raül Romeva (in pre-trial prison): rebellion, 16 years in jail, 16 years barred from office

7. Carles Mundó (freed on bail): misuse of public funds, 7 years in jail, 16 years barred from office, 30,000-euro fine

8. Meritxell Borràs (freed on bail): misuse of public funds, 7 years in jail, 16 years barred from office, 30,000-euro fine

9. Santi Vila (freed on bail): misuse of public funds, 7 years in jail, 16 years barred from office, 30,000-euro fine

Grassroots leaders

10. Jordi Sànchez (in pre-trial prison): rebellion, 17 years in jail, 17 years barred from office

11. Jordi Cuixart (in pre-trial prison): rebellion, 17 years in jail, 17 years barred from office

Former parliament bureau members

12. Carme Forcadell (in pre-trial prison): rebellion, 17 years in jail, 17 years barred from office

13. Lluís Corominas (freed on bail): serious disobedience, 1 year and 8 months barred from office, 30,000-euro fine

14. Lluís Guinó (freed on bail): serious disobedience, 1 year and 8 months barred from office, 30,000-euro fine

15. Ramona Barrufet (freed on bail): serious disobedience, 1 year and 8 months barred from office, 30,000-euro fine

16. Anna Simó (freed on bail): serious disobedience, 1 year and 8 months barred from office, 30,000-euro fine

17. Joan Josep Nuet (freed without precautionary measures): serious disobedience, 1 year and 4 months barred from office, 24,000-euro fine

Other officials

18. Mireia Boya (freed without precautionary measures): serious disobedience, 1 year and 8 months barred from office 30,000-euro fine

Exiled

19. Carles Puigdemont (in Belgium): in absentia, no sentences proposed

20. Toni Comín (in Belgium): in absentia, no sentences proposed

21. Clara Ponsatí (in Scotland): in absentia, no sentences proposed

22. Meritxell Serret (in Belgium): in absentia, no sentences proposed

23. Lluís Puig (in Belgium): in absentia, no sentences proposed

24. Marta Rovira (in Switzerland): in absentia, no sentences proposed

25. Anna Gabriel (in Switzerland): in absentia, no sentences proposed

ALSO READ (from The Guardian): Catalan politicians charged a year after independence vote

Click here for all articles and updates on the Catalan Trial

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