Madrid prepares for possible independence declaration

Spanish prosecutor has said it will do whatever it takes, and is even considering charges of rebellion, an offence punishable by 15 to 25 years in prison

Spanish president Mariano Rajoy at a press conference on October 1 (by ACN)
Spanish president Mariano Rajoy at a press conference on October 1 (by ACN) / Alex Rolandi

Alex Rolandi | Barcelona

October 10, 2017 02:19 PM

The Spanish prosecutor is preparing itself for what might happen after Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s appearance in parliament later on Tuesday afternoon, amidst rumours of a possible declaration of independence. 

Sources close to Spain’s attorney general José Manuel Maza have confirmed nothing has been ruled out in response to what could happen, not even a charge for the crime of rebellion against the Catalan president, punishable by 15 to 25 years in prison. The Spanish government has also threatened to strip Catalonia of its autonomy.

Whatever it takes 

There are a wide range of measures at Madrid's disposal to put a halt to independence, should it be declared. Spain’s minister of justice Rafael Catalá re-affirmed this Tuesday morning that the state is “prepared” for whatever happens, hours before Puigdemont’s parliamentary appeareance. 

“[The State] has and will use all the instruments established in the legislation to ensure that in Spain something as simple as complying with the laws, the sentences, the legal obligations of all are respected by the public authorities, and therefore, for this we are prepared, " Catalá said. 


Until now, Spain’s main course of action has been via the Prosecutor’s office. At the beginning of the judicial year, attorney general Maza said any attempt to destroy the unity of Spain would be met with a “firm and energetic” response, saying he would act “without doubt” and “without hesitation.”

In recent weeks, he set in motion the process to charge the presidents of the ANC and Òmnium Cultural Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, and the Chief of the Catalan police Josep Lluís Trapero, for crimes of sedition. 

According to Catalan daily newspaper Ara, Maza is now willing to charge Puigdemont for rebellion against the state, for the publication via Twitter of referendum-related websites after others had been shut down by the Guardia Civil. 

As the defining moment approaches, all options are on the table in case of an independence declaration, while only the select few have any idea of what might happen in the Catalan parliament later.

A state of emergency 

Spain can declare a state of emergency in Catalonia for up to 15 days, applying article 116 of a law created in 1981, when "extraordinary circumstances make it impossible to maintain normality through the powers of the competent authorities," effectively stripping Catalonia of its parliamentary powers.