The Criminal Appeals division of Spain’s Supreme Court issued a ruling on Tuesday afternoon denying an appeal by Jordi Sánchez against the Supreme Court investigating judge analysing the events related to the Catalan declaration of independence from Spain in October.
The ruling, however, is notable for two other reasons: it confirms the investigating judge’s observations about the likely existence of criminal behaviour related to the crime of rebellion (a maximum 30-year jail sentence in Spain) and reminds any Germans reading that the planned unilateral secession of an entire Spanish region is not comparable to protests related to “the extension of the runway at Frankfurt airport”.
Spain’s Supreme Court said German judges had acted too hastily and without enough evidence about the underlying events. At stake, said the Spanish judges, were the sovereignty of Spain, national unity, the country’s constitutional system, social fragmentation and economic damage.
“It appears contradictory to the principles of reason that the German court sees equivalence between events that happened in German, consisting of revolts organised by a citizens’ initiative leader who called thousands of people to protest in order to stop the extension of the runway at an airport in Frankfurt (the State of Hesse), with the separatist process in an Autonomous Community of more than seven million inhabitants.”
Spain’s Supreme Court said “complex legal analysis is not necessary” to see the difference between the two cases, which are “evidently not similar”, and have “nothing to do” with each other. The German decision “lacks rigour”.
The Catalan independence crisis last autumn was about “the end of a secessionist process in a country of the European Union, with a mature democracy” and “bringing the masses on to the streets” against the “legitimate force of the state”.
There was a referendum on October 1, say Spain’s most senior judges, that did lead to a declaration of independence in Catalonia and the 6,000 extra police officers deployed to try to enforce court orders against the illegal vote “could not cope with two million voters”.
Those details were offered by the Spanish court in response to the German court’s remarks on there not being sufficient violence or force used to “break the will of the State” and justify the extradition of Mr. Puigdemont on a charge of rebellion.
“6,000 [police officers] could in no way prevent the will of the government from being broken as regards this particular event”, wrote the Spanish judges.
“…if a considerably larger number of police officers had intervened it is very likely that everything would have ended in a massacre and then it would be very possible the result of the European arrest warrant would be different.”
The Crime Of Rebellion
The Supreme Court criminal appeals division said it did see enough evidence in the investigator’s material to warrant a trial for the crime of rebellion, which carries a maximum 30-year jail sentence under the 1995 Criminal Code.
The court said that there had been “over 100 clashes” on voting day on October 1, 2017, and that participants “were aware of the illegality” of the vote.
“There was violence and there were physical clashes.”
The judges said it “seems clear” the events in question fit under the criminal definition of the Spanish crime of rebellion—”which attacks the core of the political and legal system”—and not that of the “more localised” crime of sedition, related to the obstruction of officers of the law carrying out legal orders.