Five pro-independence activists to testify for burning pictures of Spanish King
The five pro-independence activists who burned pictures of the King of Spain will testify on Tuesday at 9 am (CET time) before Spain’s High Court, the ‘Audiencia Nacional’, in Madrid. The Catalan Police Force, Mossos d’Esquadra, has already arrested three of them and will detain the remaining two and hand them over to the Spanish Guardia Civil during the course of the day. Mossos d’Esquadra acted following the orders of the Spanish Court. The judge investigating the five people for an alleged crime against the crown, Fernando Andreu, decided to order the arrest after those activists who are now to be prosecuted refused to testify by videoconference last Wednesday. This case fuels once again tensions between the radical left pro-independence CUP and the governing cross-party list ‘Junts Pel sí’ (JxSí) over the action of the Catalan Police Force. Indeed, CUP has already announced it will request the resignation of the Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, Jordi Jané, for allowing Mossos d’Esquadra to be subordinated to the Spanish courts.
Barcelona (CNA).- Five pro-independence activists will testify before Spain’s High Court, the ‘Audienca Nacional’, on Tuesday at 9 am (CET time) for setting fire to a photograph of the King of Spain, Felipe VI. The incident took place last Catalan National Day, on the 11th of September, and five people are being investigated for an alleged crime against the crown. The judge of the ‘Audiencia Nacional’, Fernando Andreu, ordered the arrests after the five activists who are now to be prosecuted refused to testify by videoconference last Wednesday the 7th of December. According to the Catalan Police Force, ‘Mossos d’Esquadra’, three of the accused have already been detained. The pro-independence activists are being moved to Madrid to give a statement. This is not the first time a judge calls people being investigated for burning a picture of the King of Spain to testify before the court. Back in 2008, 16 Catalans testified in court in a similar case, although they were absolved of any crime in the end. The arrests have increased tensions between the radical left pro-independence CUP and the governing cross-party list ‘Junts pel Sí’ (JxSí) over the Catalan police accepting requests made by the Spanish judiciary.
The three pro-independence activists already detained are Aitor Blanc, SOM Gramenet councillor at Santa Coloma de Gramenet City Hall; Jordi Almiñana, member of the left-wing pro-independence sector of Navàs (in the Province of Barcelona); and Ivan Altimira, advisor of CUP in Barcelona. Nora Miralles, journalist and member of the CUP; and \u200B\u200BRoger Santacana, number 7 on CUP’s lists in Manresa (central Catalonia) are yet to be arrested. The judge of the ‘Audiencia Nacional’, Fernando Andreu, ordered the detentions after the five activists who are now to be prosecuted refused to testify by videoconference on the instructions of various courts in Catalonia last Wednesday.
The Catalan Police Force has brought the detainees to the Spanish Guardia Civil headquarters in Sant Andreu de la Barca (in the Province of Barcelona) and from there, the Spanish Police will move them to Madrid, where they will testify on Tuesday at 9 am (CET time). The aim of the arrest is to take statements. The judge will afterwards grant bail to the detainees.
Tensions grow high between CUP and JxSí
This case has fuelled tensions between CUP and JxSí over the action of Mossos d’Esquadra. The Catalan Police Force was responsible for the arrests of the pro-independence activists and this has caused a stink among the radical left pro-independence party.
The spokesman of the CUP in Barcelona, \u200B\u200BMaria José Lecha, explained that the group will request the resignation of the Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, Jordi Jané, for allowing Mossos d’Esquadra to be subordinated to the Spanish judiciary. Lecha also recalled that the investigation of these facts was an initiative of the Catalan Ministry and stated that the arrests are a “repressive measure against the pro-independence left-wing and the popular classes’ freedom of expression”.
Contrarily, the former liberal ‘Convergència’ (now renamed Catalan European Democratic Party, PDeCAT), asked to leave public employees out of the political dispute. In a tweet, its general coordinator, Marta Pascal, recalled that Mossos d’Esquadra are a judicial police and have to fulfil court orders. In a similar vein, the spokesman of the left-wing pro-independence party ERC, Sergi Sabrià, defended the action of Mossos d’Esquadra. “They cannot be asked to do politics”, he said. Sabrià also deemed it “disproportionate” to order the arrest and to investigate the activists for burning pictures of the Spain’s King and lamented the “severity” of the court action.
Demonstrations throughout Catalonia
The CUP has organised for this evening at 8 pm (CET time) several rallies throughout Catalonia to protest against the arrests. Under the slogan “Neither king, nor fear”, the party wants people to denounce the Catalan Ministry for Home Affairs for acting within the mandate of Spain’s High Court.
This is not the first time the Catalan Police Force follows Spanish court orders. The Mayor of Berga, Montserrat Venturós, was arrested in November after refusing to testify for keeping a Catalan pro-independence flag on the façade of Berga’s Town Hall on two election days.
Similarly, the five pro-independence activists due to testify on Tuesday are not being deprived of their liberty for an alleged crime against the crown, but for refusing to testify when called to do so. This measure is established in the Criminal Procedure Act.
Som Gramenet laments the “judicialisation” of politics
The municipal group Som Gramenet assessed as “exaggerated” the arrest of its spokesman in the city of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Aitor Blanc. The councillor of the party Alba Calvo lamented this Monday the “judicialisation” of politics and the “persecution” of freedom of expression.
In this regard, the municipal group also issued a statement in which it said that the detention is “another example of the judicial persecution suffered by people fighting and expressing their ideas”. The text also recalls that “freedom of expression should be guaranteed in a democratic state”.
Indeed, these arrests are to be added to other examples of political representatives who have recently been summonsed by the Spanish courts, such as former Catalan President, Artur Mas, accused of co-organising the 9-N symbolic vote on independence in 2014. Three other former ministers were summonsed for the same reason. More recently, Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, was accused of disobedience for allowing the pro-independence roadmap to be put to vote last July.
Berga’s Mayor, Montse Venturós, was also arrested in November for refusing to take down a pro-independence flag from the Town Hall’s building on two election days. For his part, CUP’s councillor in Vic, Joan Coma, has been accused of ‘insurrection’ for calling in a plenary session for disobedience to the Spanish institutions.