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Turull becomes second jailed independence leader to take case to Europe

Former presidency minister argues the court was not impartial and his freedom of expression was breached

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10 June 2021 11:19 AM

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ACN | Barcelona

Former presidency minister Jordi Turull has become the second jailed independence leader to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.

He is serving a 12-year prison sentence on sedition charges for his role in the 2017 push to split from Spain.

On Thursday, a day after activist Jordi Cuixart appealed before Strasbourg, the Junts per Catalunya politician's lawyers presented their appeal.

The document is accompanied by 1,789 pages relating to the case's path through the Spanish legal system. 

Turull's main lawyer, Jordi Pina, argues that his client's right to a fair trial in the court established by law, as well as his freedom of speech, were breached. 

The lawyer spoke to the press outside the court alongside the former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and former MP and current member of Turull's legal team, Francesc Homs.

 

  • "After a turbulent journey through Spanish courts, we’re meeting again in Europe, where president [Puigdemont] and exiles have prevailed on multiple occasions"

    Jordi Pina · Lawyer of Jordi Turull

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said that the legal appeals presented by jailed pro-independence leaders in the European Court of Human Rights "open a period of hope for the restitution of all the rights violated."

Pina, who did not want to anticipate scenarios and said the first step is for the court to accept the appeal for consideration, explained that they think Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights has been violated in Turull's case. 

This article establishes that "everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law."

The lawyer said that it should have been the Catalan high court (TSJC), and not the Supreme Court, that should have tried the referendum organizers since they did not hold any public posts at the time of their trial. 

He also argued that in an official document, one of the judges taking part in the procedures wrote: "We are suffering harassment," referring to the independence push, thus expressing victimhood and, therefore, according to Pina, the judge was not neutral. 

Pina also included leaked WhatsApp messages in which a senior People's Party official, Ignacio Cosidó, said that his political force would "control" the trial "from behind the scenes"

Turull's defense also cited the fact that two Constitutional Court judges consider the jailed leaders' conviction to be "disproportionate." Yet, most magistrates in the institution agree with the Supreme Court in stating that, as presidency minister and government spokesperson, the politician "actively took part in the seditious events" attending meetings and launching campaigns to encourage the vote in the 2017 independence referendum.

Pina hopes that the Human Rights court will ultimately rule in favor of his client. "After a turbulent journey through Spanish courts, we’re meeting again in Europe, where president [Puigdemont] and exiles have prevailed on multiple occasions," he said.

Cuixart first leader to take case to Europe

On Wednesday, Cuixart became the first leader to place an appeal before the European Court of Human Rights.  

The president of civic organization Omnium is serving a 9-year prison sentence for sedition after leading a protest on September 20, 2017, in the buildup to the October 1, 2017 referendum.

He spent two years in pre-trial detention before the Supreme Court convicted him on October 14, 2019.

Omnium will explain the content of Cuixart's appeal in depth next Tuesday alongside various international organizations as announced on Twitter, but the organization has already explained that it has been filed in Catalan and includes around 60 reports of entities that have called for his release. 

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