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'It was a violent coup d'etat': Public prosecutor justifies rebellion charges

Attorney general accuses jailed leaders of "serious attack on the foundations of the constitution with illegal, coercive methods"

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04 June 2019 01:24 PM

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ACN | Madrid

Spain's public prosecutor has branded the 2017 independence push "a coup d'etat" during their closing arguments in the Supreme Court trial of 12 Catalan political leaders from that period.

Insurrection, violence, uprising, and coercion. Attorney Javier Zaragoza mapped out the road to independence culminating with the referendum and the declaration of independence, using these terms in an effort to convince the judge that nine of the prosecuted officials should be sentenced to up to 25 years in jail for rebellion.

"It was a serious attack on the foundations of the constitution with illegal, coercive methods, using violence when needed," he said on Tuesday morning.

The prosecutor claimed that leaders in the dock sought to "revoke, suspend or modify the Spanish constitution."

 

  • "It was a serious attack on the foundations of the constitution with illegal, coercive methods"

    Javier Zaragoza · Public prosecutor

Although his arguments applied to all 12 prosecuted pro-independence figures, he especially targeted the Catalan vice-president in 2017, Oriol Junqueras. "I believe Junqueras is the main driver behind the referendum."

The president at that time, Carles Puigdemont, is in exile, and therefore not part of the proceedings.

Criticism of UN's calls to release leaders

Zaragoza also denied that the nine politicians and activists in preventative detention are political prisoners.

"There are no political prisoners, they are no political prisoners," he insisted.

He also rejected the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention's report urging the "immediate" release of the leaders, questioning its source, and accusing the institution of ignoring Spain's arguments.

Violence's key role

Following Zaragoza's intervention, Public Prosecutor Jaime Moreno went on to argue that the defendants used violence - as is needed for the charge of rebellion - to advance their goals, downplaying the role of police violence against voters and protesters, which he described as "legitimate" for maintaining the judicial mandate. He also argued that the referendum was not a matter of democracy since voting must comply with the law.

According to Moreno, the defendants instrumentalized violence:"There was violence, it was necessary for their cause, the accused knew the vote would provoke confrontations, and yet they still called people to vote knowing what would happen."

 Other public prosecutors

Public Prosecutor Consuelo Madrigal argued that the defendants should be charged with rebellion for the misuse of an estimated 3 million euros in public funds, while her colleague Fidel Cadena argued from a legal theory perspective, stating that they should be charged with rebellion even though a military rebellion did not take place because they violated the constitution and the foundations of the Spanish State. 

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  • Image of the public prosecutor Javier Zaragoza on February 12, 2019 during the Catalan trial (by Pool EFE)

  • Image of the public prosecutor Javier Zaragoza on February 12, 2019 during the Catalan trial (by Pool EFE)

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