The International Trial Watch platform presented its final report on Thursday in Madrid, regarding the Supreme Court trial and sentencing of the nine Catalan independence leaders, who were jailed for up to 13 years for their role in the 2017 referendum.
The International Trial Watch is an independent platform composed of 31 organisations and 533 legal professionals across 23 countries, ‘working to defend human rights and freedoms’. The Catalan Trial report was produced as a result of the presence of 62 observers in the trial from 17 different countries. They concluded that the trial violated human rights in a ‘massive way’.
Specifically, according to the platform, the Catalan Trial violated the independence leaders’ right to the principle of criminal legality, right to liberty, freedom of expression, freedom of ideology, the right to peaceful assembly, political participation, as well as the right to a process with all the guarantees.
According to the conclusions of the document, the Supreme Court trial was a ‘violation of human rights’ collected by treaties and conventions ratified by the Spanish state, that are part of its internal legal system. ‘It is a clearly ideological resolution aimed at replacing the political solution that is needed in the conflict in Catalonia,’ reads the document.
Anaïs Franquesa, a representative of the Irídia Center for the Defense of Human Rights, part of the International Trial Watch, affirmed that the sentence ‘clearly breaks the principle of criminal legality‘ that implies that the law ‘is not foreseeable for the condemned’.
According to Franquesa, ‘the foundation of the sentence’ is that a crime of disobedience ‘becomes sedition to deter citizens from participating in mobilizations.’ The reality, she recalled, was that it was a ‘peaceful mobilization’ enshrined in the ‘right of expression and protest’ that does not justify imprisonment.
‘It is criminalising the right to protest and violent right of assembly,’ she said, and therefore ‘the fundamental right violent judgment affecting all citizens.’
The president of European Democratic Lawyers (AED), Robert Sabata, denounced that ‘there have been very clear violations’ about the right to ‘a fair trial’, beginning with the fact that the trial ‘should have taken place in Catalonia ‘because the facts had no effect on the rest of Spain’.
The court, he said, made ‘an expansive interpretation’ of its jurisdiction and also violated the right to ‘second instance’. ‘Basically the judges were not a third party, but an interested party’ and there are ‘serious doubts about their impartiality,’ he said, before reminding of the media pressure and the fact that the president of the courtroom, Manuel Marchena, prevented videos that denied the testimonies of the accusations be seen in the court, which caused ‘material defencelessness’
After the Supreme Court issued its verdicts on Monday 14 October, acting Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez described the court’s handling of the trial as ‘exemplary’.
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