Joan Coma testifies before the Court for defending “civil disobedience” in a plenary session
Joan Coma, a pro-independence radical left CUP councillor in Vic, a town 60 kilometres from Barcelona, was arrested on Tuesday for ‘insurrection’ when calling for disobedience against the Spanish institutions in a plenary session a year ago. Two police officers in civilian clothes took him to Madrid’s ‘Audiencia Nacional’ court, where he had to declare this Wednesday after refusing to do so in October. Coma was freed without charges but the magistrate Ismael Moreno asked for the removal of Coma’s passport. “I hope to have a Catalan one soon”, Coma stated before the press soon after leaving the ‘Audiencia Nacional’ court. Hundreds of representatives from CUP, pro-independence left wing ERC and the Catalan European Democratic Party PDeCAT showed their support for Coma on Wednesday before many city halls throughout Catalonia and before the ‘Audiencia Nacional’ court.
Barcelona (CNA).- Two Police officers in civilian clothes arrested on Tuesday Joan Coma, councillor in Vic, a small town 60 kilometres from Barcelona, for ‘inciting to sedition’ for having said in a city hall plenary session that civil disobedience was a legitimate option for achieving independence.After refusing to so do in October, this Wednesday pro-independence radical left CUP’s Coma testified before the Spanish ‘Audiencia Nacional’ court in Madrid and lamented what he defined as “more proof of the anti-democratic nature of the Spanish State”. Magistrate Ismael Moreno cleared Coma of charges and ordered the withdrawal of the accused’s passport. “I hope to have a Catalan one soon”, Coma said before the press soon after leaving the Court. Coma’s lawyer and CUP MP, Benet Salellas, noted that magistrate Moreno was a former police officer during Franco’s dictatorship and emphasised that he “used the penal code from 1973” to judge Coma.
“To make an omelette, you have to break the eggs first”. This is what Joan Coma, CUP’s councillor in Vic, a town 60 kilometres from Barcelona, said in December last year during a plenary session. The expression was said within the context of how to launch the pro-independence roadmap and he referred to the need to disobey the Spanish institutions in order to set out a new legal framework and start building the Catalan republic.
Far-right xenophobic ‘Plataforma per Catalunya’ councillor in Vic, Josep Anglada, called for the justice system to investigate the episode which was later defined as ‘incitation to sedition’. Coma was called to testify before the ‘Audiencia Nacional’ court in October but refused to do so. He assured that he didn’t “recognise” the ‘Audiencia Nacional’s “authority” and stated on his Twitter account that he will be in Vic’s City Hall instead “obeying” his conscience and “complying with the democratic mandate”.
“Coma explained his position and defended the legitimacy of civil disobedience as a democratic instrument which leads to social change”, Salellas explained before the press. “He was asked whether he recognised the Spanish judicial system and he replied that it was not a specific problem of the Spanish courts; he refused to appear before any court whatsoever which didn’t recognise the minimum political rights and he assumed that his trial didn’t respect that”, Salellas continued.
Mobilisations in support of Coma
Hundreds of representatives from CUP, pro-independence left wing ERC and the Catalan European Democratic Party PDeCAT showed their support for Coma and protested against Spain’s judicialisation of politics on Wednesday night, soon after his arrest was made public. Alongside other local representatives, they gathered together before many city halls throughout Catalonia.
On Tuesday, some of them also travelled to Madrid to express their disconformity before the ‘Audiencia Nacional’. However, the Spanish police didn’t allow the mobilisation to take place and the group, made up of hundreds of people, moved to a nearby street. Some of the demonstrators were also identified by the police.
A controversial judge
Ismael Moreno, the ‘Audiencia Nacional’ magistrate who heard the case, started his career as a police officer during Franco’s dictatorship, in 1974. Besides this fact, Coma’s lawyer and CUP MP, Benet Salellas, noted that magistrate Moreno “used the penal code from 1973” to judge Coma.
Moreno is also investigating other Catalan towns and villages which have passed motions in support of the Parliament’s pro-independence roadmap, approved by the Catalan Chamber on the 9th of November 2015 and later suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court.
In March, Moreno also ordered a report on the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI), the Catalan Association of Municipalities (ACM) and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), some of the main civil society organisations that support Catalonia’s independence.