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Human rights groups denounce ‘serious irregularities’ in Catalan trial

The International Federation for Human Rights and EuroMed Rights issue joint report criticizing Spain’s Supreme Court

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09 October 2019 03:25 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Human rights groups have denounced "serious irregularities" in the Catalan independence trial, with its verdict expected to be announced by Spain’s Supreme Court in the coming days.

In a joint report, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and EuroMed Rights concluded that the judicial process against the 12 politicians and activists charged for calling a referendum and declaring independence in the fall of 2017 "didn’t offer the minimum guarantees to be qualified as fair."

The two organizations alleged that judges didn’t do enough to ensure that lawyers could shed light on the alleged facts—for instance, when they prevented defense teams from contrasting the testimony of some witnesses with actual footage from the scenes they were describing.

Observers from the two organizations, who attended the Supreme Court hearings in person, said that prosecutors called witnesses whose testimonies offered "stereotypical" narratives and didn’t guarantee the right to defense.

After a trial spanning four months, nine of the accused were charged by the public prosecutor with the crime of rebellion, carrying prison sentences of up to 25 years.

 

  • 'I do not see a way to consider them guilty from what I have seen"

    Alexandre Far · International observer

Throughout the process, defense teams denounced what they saw as repeated violations of their clients’ rights to defense and to a fair trial. The Supreme Court is due to decide on such allegations when the verdict is announced in the coming days.

FIDH and EuroMed Rights also criticized that prosecutors presented as evidence documents to which defense teams had not been guaranteed prior access.

"They should be pardoned"

Alexandre Far, one of the international observers who put together the report, has spoken out regarding some of the irregularities unearthed by the report.

Far criticised the fact that the leaders had been held in provisional detention for two years, since ''the crime is quite difficult to qualify with factual elements that we have seen.''

Through his observations of the mishandlings, he believes that judges ''should pardon'' the pro-independence leaders. ''I do not see a way to consider them guilty from what I have seen.''

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  • Catalan leaders sit at the dock at Spain's Supreme Court during the independence trial (by EFE)

  • Catalan leaders sit at the dock at Spain's Supreme Court during the independence trial (by EFE)