24th May 2019
Gerardo Pisarello
Barcelona News Catalonia News Madrid News Main News

Catalan Trial: Day 36 summary

Two scholars, a politician, and a union leader were summoned to give their testimony on day 36 of the Catalan trial, with 12 politicians and activists sitting in the dock for calling a referendum and declaring independence in 2017, despite Spain’s opposition.

Catalan Trial: click here full details of those accused, the charges, and the accusers.

Witnesses defended in court the ‘plurality’ of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat), under scrutiny for allegedly using public funds to internationalise the Catalan independence bid.

The four witnesses were members of organisations overseeing the work of Diplocat, a public-private partnership promoting Catalonia abroad, which unionist parties see as a tool serving the interests of the independence movement.

While presenting himself as a ‘political rival’ of the defendants, Gerardo Pisarello, the deputy mayor of Barcelona, stressed that Diplocat always stayed ‘plural’ when tackling political issues, inviting both experts for and against Catalan self-determination to its conferences.

Daniel García, a member of UGT, Spain’s largest union, explained that the organisation ‘was neutral and let everybody explain their political position.’ He also recalled that ‘not only did [Diplocat] talk about the independence movement, but also about social and economic issues.’

Gerardo Pisarello
Gerardo Pisarello, deputy mayor of Barcelona, testifying in the Supreme Court on 25 April 2019.

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In a similar line, Antoni Millet, the director of Barcelona’s Centre for International Studies (CEI), highlighted Diplocat’s ‘plurality’ when organising academic debates.

The director of the Barcelona Institute for International Studies (IBEI), Jacint Jordana, denied that Diplocat acted as an arm of the Catalan government diplomacy to ‘explain the independence movement to the world’, but rather it helped ‘internationalise Catalan society’.

When the Spanish government suspended Catalan autonomy and imposed direct rule in the fall of 2017, one of its first measures was to shut down Diplocat and start dismantling the organisation.

The organisation has recently resumed its work, more than a year after pro-independence parties won the election to the Catalan parliament and reclaimed control of the government.

ALSO READ: Catalan trial: controversy over ‘rebellion’ and violence

In the afternoon session, former CUP party MP David Fernàndez took the stand. Present during the protests against Spanish police raids in the run-up to the 2017 independence referendum, Fernàndez described the demonstrations as ‘absolutely peaceful’.

The former MP also said he knew the referendum had been ruled illegal by Spanish courts, adding: ‘If self-determination is a crime, I declare myself guilty and a repeat offender. And as long as it remains a crime, I’ll continue to disobey until it becomes a democratic right.’

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MP for the pro-independence ERC party, Ruben Wagensberg, also defended protests on 20 September 2017, against Spanish police raids, saying: ‘Catalan citizens engaged in the greatest act of civil disobedience I’ve ever seen’.

Meanwhile, another ERC MP who was present during the protests, Jordi Orobitg, said that ‘the most aggressive thing I saw on 20 September was a man throwing an empty plastic bottle at the police, and people reproached him for that.’

As for Bernat Picornell, a senator for the ERC party, he said there was a ‘festive atmospher'” during the protests in front of the finance department on 20 September 2017.

Catalan Trial: click here full details of those accused, the charges, and the accusers.

Click here for all articles and updates on the Catalan Trial

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