Former Catalan leader defends push for independence
Publish date: 14 June 2019
Issue Number: 4719
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: A Matter of Justice
The former Catalan Vice-President Oriol Junqueras this week used the last day of landmark proceedings against him and 11 other separatist leaders to defend the failed push for regional independence but also to plead for a political solution to the crisis. A report in The Guardian notes that the trial, which has lasted four months and heard testimony from 422 witnesses, has examined the events leading up to the unilateral independence referendum on 1 October 2017 and the Catalan Parliament’s subsequent declaration of independence. Nine of the 12 defendants – including Junqueras; the former speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell; and two influential grassroots activists, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez – are accused of rebellion, which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years. Other charges include sedition and the misuse of public funds. Addressing the judges at the Supreme Court in Madrid, Junqueras said: ‘I genuinely believe that the best thing for all of us – for Catalonia, for Spain, for everyone – would be to see this issue returned to the sphere of politics – good politics – an area it should never have left.’ The former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who led the push for regional independence, is not among those on trial. He fled Spain to avoid arrest at the end of October 2017 and is living in self-imposed exile in Belgium. Although the trial phase is over, verdicts and sentences are not expected until the autumn. The defendants have already said they would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.