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Mixed reaction to independence leader’s decision to stay in Geneva

Former MP Anna Gabriel’s refusal to return for court appearance draws support and criticism from political parties

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20 February 2018 06:31 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

As might be expected, the decision by the former CUP MP and leading figure in the independence movement, Anna Gabriel, to remain in Switzerland rather than return to Spain to testify in the Supreme Court drew mixed reactions from among the political community. In an interview with a Swiss newspaper on Tuesday, Gabriel said she has decided to stay in Geneva because ”I will not get a fair trial in my country.”

One of the CUP party’s pro-independence allies, the Junts per Catalunya group of deposed president Carles Puigdemont, responded to the news by pledging its “total support” to Gabriel. Puigdemont is still in Brussels, where he went with four of his former ministers following the Catalan Parliament’s declaration of independence, and also expressing doubts over his chances of being treated fairly by the Spanish justice system.

“All defense strategies are legitimate,” says ERC

The other pro-independence party, Esquerra, also supported Gabriel, with a spokesman saying that “all defense strategies seem to me legitimate and correct, including this one.” The spokesman also agreed with Gabriel’s view of the “low quality” of Spanish justice. Asked whether he thought Gabriel’s decision puts other figures under investigation at risk of prison, he limited himself to saying,”for us the priority is that everyone gets to sleep in their own homes.”     

However, the other Catalan parties were not so understanding of Gabriel’s decision not to testify before the Supreme Court. The PSC socialist leader, for example, argued that the former CUP MP should have appeared in court, as “no one can be above the law,” said party leader Miquel Iceta. “When the judiciary requires us to do so, we must appear,” he said, adding that all citizens should remember that they have “rights and duties”.

For Cs, “Puigdemont and CUP are the same”

As for Ciutadans (Cs), the largest party in the Catalan chamber opposed to independence stressed the similarities between the situations of Puigdemont and Gabriel. “Puigdemont and CUP think the same, behave the same and flee the same,” said Cs leader, Inés Arrimadas, who also criticized the Catalan president and Gabriel for sharing “the same attitude towards the law.”

While the leader of the Catalunya en Comú Podem party (CatECP), Xavier Domènech, regretted Gabriel’s “personal and human” situation, he said her decision to remain in Switzerland is “a further expression of an extraordinary situation in democratic and legal terms.” Also critical of the Supreme Court, which he said had made some “absolutely arbitrary” decisions, the CatECP leader urged “reconstruction of the country.”

PP calls decision “deeply anti-democratic”

Naturally, the harshest criticism of Gabriel came from Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP), with justice minister Rafael Catalá calling the former CUP MP’s decision "seriously irresponsible" and “deeply anti-democratic”. Gabriel’s failure to appear before the Supreme Court “shows a lack of civic ethics,” he said. As for the Spanish government’s delegate to Catalonia, Enric Millo, Gabriel’s decision is “another demonstration of a lack of respect for democracy” and an “"inability to accept the consequences of one’s actions."

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  • A press conference by CUP about Anna Gabriel decision (by ACN)

  • A press conference by CUP about Anna Gabriel decision (by ACN)