Criminologist on Supreme Court's sedition verdict: 'Where are the limits now?'
Marc Balcells discusses the Catalan Trial sentence and the implications it could have on sedition in the future
Marc Balcells, a criminology professor specializing in law at the Open University of Catalonia and at Pompeu Fabra University, spoke to Catalan News on Tuesday to reflect on the Supreme Court’s decision to convict nine pro-independence leaders for sedition.
According to Balcells, the decision to send these politicians and activists to prison for 9 to 13 years was "strong and harsh," describing it as an act of "penal populism" since many of those opposed to the movement had been calling for long sentences for those behind the 2017 independence referendum - some even for the more serious charge of rebellion.
Sedition, what the jailed leaders have been sent to prison for, "is a public uprising. It’s like people just demonstrating en masse, but exactly, the precept states that it has to be tumultuous, which really means that it has to be a lot of people, and without the violence that is required in a rebellion," Balcells explains.
The criminology professor believes the sentences are overly strict for those involved, but he also sees them as problematic for the population as a whole, pointing out that the verdict could create precedent affecting future demonstrations and possible sedition charges: "Where are the limits now? Can we demonstrate, can we not demonstrate?"
Not all experts agree with Balcell’s conclusion, however, and other jurists the Catalan News Agency spoke to expressed other opinions on the verdict.
Lawyer José María Fuster-Fabra described the Supreme Court’s decision as "intelligent and balanced" and Francesc Jufresa called it "correct."