Catalan police chief and pro-independence civil society leaders called to testify in sedition case
Court investigates Barcelona demonstrations against police raids on Catalan ministries and those responsible for impeding the work of the authorities “by force or illegally”
Catalan police chief, Josep Lluís Trapero, and the heads of the ANC and Òmnium pro-independence civil society organisations, Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, have been summoned to appear in Spain’s National Court on Friday, to testify in an investigation into sedition relating to the demonstrations that took place on September 20 and 21 in Barcelona. The protests came after Spanish police raided several Catalan ministries and arrested 14 high-ranking officials as part of an operation to stop the October 1 referendum.
On September 27, the judge admitted the prosecutor’s complaint, saying that the charge of sedition was due to the "tumultuous uprising" that took place aimed at "preventing by force or illegally” law enforcement or actions of the authorities.
In last week’s resolution, the National Court pointed out that "there were signs" enough to believe that the events constituted a crime of sedition. The judge says that there was a "crowd of people" between the buildings being raided and that people tried to “violently” prevent the authorities from carrying out their work.
"We ask you to maintain confidence in the work of the officers, who have never stopped working with professionalism and respect for the law”, said the Catalan police on its official Twitter account.
The judge also said that the tires of official cars were punctured, Catalan Socialist Party headquarters were attacked and members of the party assaulted, while demonstrators prevented the authorities from leaving the buildings they were searching.
"We ask you to maintain confidence in the work of the officers, who have never stopped working with professionalism and respect for the law”
Civil society leaders pointed out
While not formally charging anyone, the prosecutor nevertheless pointed to the heads of the ANC and Òmnium, the two civil society organisations that encouraged people to take to the streets and protest against the police raids. Last week, the judge asked Spanish police for an official report on what took place over the two days that was “aimed at preventing law enforcement officers from carrying out their functions.”
The judge stated that the National Court can investigate the case, even though sedition cases do not always come within its jurisdiction. According to the judge, in this case, the National Court does have powers to prosecute the case because sedition can be interpreted as a form of attack on the government, while other types of seditious offences include those acts “aimed at breaking the territorial organization of the State.”
4 to 15 years in prison
According to article 544 of the Criminal Code, those that rise up "publicly and tumultuously" to prevent the application of laws or the work authorities "by force or illegally” can be charged with sedition. Under Spanish law, the crime carries jail sentences of between 4 and 15 years.
Specifically, those found to be the leaders or to have "directed or sustained" sedition face 8 to 10 years in prison. In cases of the guilty party being a public authority, the penalties rise from 10 to 15 years jail time. For the rest of the cases, the penalty is 4 to 8 years.