Catalan government and Parliament bureau accused of rebellion
Sedition, misuse of public funds, and others are the accusations by Spain’s Attorney General for declaration of independence
Carles Puigdemont has officially been accused of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds. This, by Spain’s Attorney General José Maza in an official statement today. The prosecutor also accused the rest of Catalan government, president of Parliament Carme Forcadell, and those Parliament bureau members who allowed the vote on the declaration of independence to take place.
The charges were specifically directed to the main players in the Catalan government responsible for, according to the Spanish government, provoking an “unconstitutional crisis” culminating in a “unilateral declaration of independence.”
While Maza has not requested that any of the accused be imprisoned, he has demanded bail of €6,207,450 for each case.
“Rebels can never ensure that their uprising will be without victims and without bloodshed”
José Maza · Spanish Attorney General
20 accused in total
Along with Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, there are 19 more individuals accused. Five Parliament bureau members (Lluís Corominas, Lluís Guinó, Anna Simó, Ramona Barrufet and Joan Josep Nuet) and the Parliament president herself Carme Forcadell are part of the lawsuit. The trial for these members of Catalan Parliament will proceed in the Spanish Supreme Court.
Accused for “decisions and acts in the last two years”
Meanwhile, Maza also accused the entire Catalan government, comprised of 14 ministers, including Santi Vila, former Minister of Business. In fact, Vila stepped down from his post on Thursday October 26 in disagreement with a then-impending declaration of independence.
Yet, those who did not participate in the declaration of independence itself on Friday October 27 are not exempt, according to the Spanish Attorney General. Indeed, charges are being brought to the Catalan government ministers for their “decisions and acts in the last two years” which Maza qualifies as showing “total contempt” for the Spanish constitution. The trial for those members of the Catalan government accused of rebellion will proceed in the Spanish National Court.
Up to 30 years in prison
As per the Spanish criminal law, rebellion charges may apply 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 jail sentences of up to 30 years.
According to the Spanish Attorney General, the “violence” necessary to be accused of rebellion “does not require weapons, combat or serious violence against people.” The Prosecutor's Office bases this premise on the 23-F coup d´état in 1981, when a group of 200 armed Spanish military police held Spanish Parliament and cabinet hostage for 18 hours, after which they surrendered with no causalities. The comparison, according to Maza, can be made because “rebels can never ensure that their uprising will be without victims and without bloodshed.”
Charges of sedition
Another charge filed by the public prosecutor to Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, his government, Parliament president Carme Forcadell, and some members of the Parliament bureau is that of sedition.
As per Article 544 of the Spanish Penal Code, the crime of sedition applies to those individuals who “rise up publicly and tumultuously to prevent, by force or outside legal channels, the application of the law” or who prevent “any authority, official corporation or public official” from carrying out “the legitimate exercise of their functions or compliance with their agreements,” or “administrative or judicial decisions.”
Previous charges of sedition
This is not the first time the charge of sedition has been brought against Catalans. In a previous case, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez, civil society leaders of the grassroots pro-independence organizations Òmnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) respectively, were also accused. The two are currently incarcerated in Madrid awaiting trial for sedition. The charges stem from their organization of various peaceful demonstrations and their involvement in the October 1 referendum vote.
Also accused of sedition in the same case as Cuixart and Sànchez is former chief of the Catalan police, the Mossos d´Esquadra, Josep Lluís Trapero. The measures against Trapero were less drastic, as the judge decided to confiscate his passport and forbid him from leaving the country. Still, Trapero was dismissed by the Spanish Home Affairs Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido in Madrid, and replaced as the head of the Catalan law enforcement by Ferran López.