Spain’s National Court in Madrid has released five of the seven activists linked to the pro-independence group Committees in Defence of the Republic (CDRs), and who were previously arrested and provisionally jailed on terrorism charges.
Nine activists in Catalonia were originally arrested in a major police operation involving 500 officers in September, with two of the activists released very shortly afterwards. The news, as well as accusations of leaks related to the investigation, dominated Spanish media during the run-up to the verdicts being announced in the Catalan Trial on 14 October.
Xavier Buigas, Guillem Xavier Duch and Eduardo Garzón, who had been in prison since 23 September, were released on bail on Friday 20 December. They were each ordered to pay €5,000 and are unable to leave the country. They are also required to report at their local court every Monday.
Whilst the overall investigation still concerns whether they were members of a terrorist organisation, or conspired to cause damage and possessed explosives, it has been reported that the judges overseeing the case could not justify their continued custody despite what they have described as the ‘relevant probability of guilt’.
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Two further CDR activists, Ferran Jolis and Alexis Codina, who had also been in prison since 23 September, were released from prison on bail on Thursday 26 December.
The court in Madrid concluded that Jolis, who was given bail of €5,000, had ‘no material contact with explosives’. The court concluded that Codina, released on bail of €10,000, did not have any explosives in his home, although some ‘precursor substances’ were found there.
Codina’s lawyer claims that these ‘precursor substances’ found at his home relate to his work of restoring furniture and antiques.
Originally nine CDR activists were arrested on 23 September, with two released shortly afterwards. Seven were accused of plotting violent acts and first gave evidence in court in Madrid on Thursday 26 September.
They were accused of allegedly belonging to a terrorist group, making and possessing explosives, and attempting to cause criminal damage.
According to the judge Manuel García Castellón, evidence originally suggested that the accused belonged to a ‘hierarchical organisation aiming to establish a Catalan republic by all means, including violent.’
In September García Castellón justified the imprisonment based on the ‘severity of the alleged crimes’, their ability to destroy evidence, the flight risk, and the risk of repeat offences.
The CDRs are a network of pro-independence assemblies set up in 2017 that defend the bid split from Spain by promoting demonstrations and protests.
Last year two other activists were accused of terrorism – one of them, Adrià Carrasco, went into exile, and the other one, Tamara Carrasco, was obliged to be confined in her town before the charges were dropped for both of them.
Since the release on bail of five of the seven activists arrested on 23 September, the Catalan President Quim Torra called on the acting Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez to apologise for accusing the pro-independence movement of supporting ‘violence’.
In a tweet, Torra stated that the CDR members should never have been imprisoned, criticised ‘defamation after defamation’ related to the case, and stated that ‘for days and days’ both the pro-independence movement and himself were ‘accused of harnessing violence’.
Difamació rere difamació, durant dies i dies vaig/vam ser acusats “d’emparar la violència”. Celebro que els empresonats del 23S surtin d’una presó on no haurien d’haver entrat mai. Molts han de demanar perdó. I el primer que ho ha de fer ha de ser el president Sánchez. https://t.co/Q1Bet6eIju
— Quim Torra i Pla (@QuimTorraiPla) December 27, 2019
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