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Socialists propose updating rebellion crime to match events in Catalonia

PSOE warns direct rule could be used against new government, while Ciutadans calls for it to continue

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17 May 2018 11:40 AM

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ACN | Madrid

Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE) will push for a reform of the criminal code in order to “update” the crime of rebellion, to bring it into line with the events for which Catalan leaders are being prosecuted in relation to their involvement in the independence bid.

In an interview with Spain’s public TV, PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez acknowledged that “it’s obvious” that the crime as it stands is to address events “linked to military coups,” thus leaving out actions that were previously “unimaginable.” Sánchez proposes updating the offense to “the 21st century, 2018.”

In total, 13 politicians and activists in Catalonia are accused of rebellion for their role in the independence bid, all of whom are either preemptively jailed in Madrid or seeking refuge from the Spanish judiciary abroad.

  • “Article 155 must be extended in order to guarantee the rights and freedoms of all Catalans”

    Albert Rivera · Ciutadans leader

Under Spanish criminal law, rebellion applies to those who “violently and publicly” try to “abrogate, suspend or modify the Constitution, either totally or partially,” or “declare the independence of part of the national territory.” The crime of rebellion carries prison sentences of up to 30 years.

Sánchez leads the main opposition party in Spain. Last October, following a declaration of independence, PSOE backed Spanish president Mariano Rajoy when he triggered Article 155 of the Constitution to suspend self-rule in Catalonia and dismiss all government members.

The appointment of Quim Torra as the new president of Catalonia last Monday is expected to put an end to direct rule from Madrid, yet Sánchez warns that Article 155 must be used again should pro-independence parties resume the unilateral path in trying to achieving their political aims.

Ciutadans (Cs), the fourth largest party in the Spanish parliament, is calling on Rajoy not to lift Article 155 in Catalonia. “Article 155 must be extended in order to guarantee the rights and freedoms of all Catalans,” said Cs leader Albert Rivera.

In fact, Ciutadans argues that direct rule from Madrid should go further, and include the control of public media in Catalonia, as well as the government’s foreign policy.

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  • Spanish Socialists leader Pedro Sánchez (by ACN)

  • Spanish Socialists leader Pedro Sánchez (by ACN)