With the reading of the sentence of October 12, regarding the 12 independentist politicians accused of sedition and embezzlement of public funds, the country entered a pitched battle in Catalonia, mainly in Barcelona, with violent protests by extremist groups and police charges for several days. Also, in other Spanish cities, mostly peaceful demonstrations are taking place, particularly in Madrid.
The Supreme Court ruling focuses on the events of September 20 and October 1, 2017, where took place the arrest warrant for the independence leaders who are promoting and organizing the referendum preparations, and the referendum of self-determination, respectively.
The crime of sedition is typified in the Spanish penal code in its articles 544 to 549, inclusive, and is defined in its article 544: “Sedition inmates are those who, without being included in the crime of rebellion, are raised publicly and tumultuously to prevent by force or outside the legal means the application of the Laws or any authority, official corporation or public official, the legitimate exercise of their functions or the agreements compliance or of administrative or judicial resolutions. ”
In parallel, the crime of embezzlement of public flows is described in article 432.1 and 3 last paragraph of the Spanish penal code; this crime was hardened by the reform of LO 1/2015, March 30, where in addition to condemning the seizure or subtraction behaviour, the unfair administration of public funds is also sanctioned.
In relation to this delitology, it is only proved by the Prosecutor’s Office that the value of the public flows used improperly by Catalan politicians in the holding of the referendum is greater than 250,000 euros, although the exact value is still pending to be determined so that can attribute the civil responsibility to the convicted.
According to the Generalitat and the Catalan independence associations the objective of the Catalan government was to press the Spanish government to allow a legal referendum in Spain to listen to the Catalan people (independence and non-independence), hence the Supreme Court dismissed the crime of rebellion.
After several unsuccessful attempts and lack of negotiation and dialogue predisposition of the Rajoy government, the independence leaders made the decision to move forward with the illegal referendum, where an attempt to peaceful voting prevailed that ended with the disproportionate use of state police forces against citizens who tried to access the polling stations not authorized by the Spanish State.
This will to proclaim the independence of Catalonia has been going back for a long time.
The revocation of several articles of the Estatut d’Autonomia in the judgment of the Constitutional Court in 2010 during the government of the Catalan leader Artur Más, driven by the popular government, was decisive for the Catalan government persistence in a self-determination for Catalonia. However, the disagreement arises because the Estatut had the previous endorsement of the socialist government led by Zapatero.
The decisions of the leaders of Catalonia have not been right within the legal and constitutional laws. Nevertheless, it is also true that the right of passive suffrage is the oldest of a democracy and the Catalan people could be heard to find out what their will is, apart from the fact that it is their right to be able to give an opinion about their future.
The Generalitat, Catalan government, has long claimed the power to hold a referendum and that first referendum may simply have a symbolic and non-binding nature that facilitates the approach of political positions between the autonomous community of Catalonia and the Spanish government.
Having acted against the Spanish state and its laws must have consequences, but there are sovereign values that must be brought before a power struggle.
Geopolitical interests are what should motivate the leaders of the executive power to act in a country, and if the capacity for dialogue is impossible between those who are governing, both Catalan and national, and must reach extremes as it is arriving in Catalonia to be heard, it seems that perhaps the concepts of politics are not being correctly interpreted by those who represent all citizens.
Neighbouring countries, such as the United Kingdom, have allowed the Scottish people to be heard and allowed a referendum by the Government of Scotland authorized in 2013 to know what the citizens wanted, and the result was that they did not want independence.
In a democratic and multi-party system, the right to vote must be allowed, and then both parties must be able to negotiate and listen.
Ignoring, prohibiting and not listening are contrary to the meaning of Democracy.
If we go back in the 21st century and there is no possibility of dialogue, what was the use of so many years of struggle for freedom of expression.
This is not synonymous of defending sentenced politicians. Although the sentences are disproportionate, comparting with other delitologies such as crimes of blood or terrorism.
It is necessary to recriminate those who defend a democracy and do not accept that one can think differently from the government.
Virgília Pires Official Intelligence, Leadership and Diplomacy Analyst