No ‘basis’ for keeping minister in jail, says professor

Decision to prevent re-offence based on “future prediction” according to Marc Balcells

University professor Marc Balcells (by ACN)
University professor Marc Balcells (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 2, 2018 07:08 PM

This has been an intense week judicially speaking. In order to understand the most recent developments, and how they relate to the political situation, we spoke with Marc Balcells, a professor of criminology at the Open University of Catalonia.

According to Balcells, judge Pablo Llarena, who is overseeing the case against pro-independence leaders is basing his decision to keep Joaquim Forn behind bars on a “future prediction.” Indeed, the reason behind the ruling was to avoid the risk of a repeat offence. In this sense, Balcells said, “there is not much basis for this claim.”

The Spanish Justice System also mentioned plans to bar 28 officials under investigation from holding public office. Although “procedually speaking it could happen,” said Balcells, “it is very rare that it could be applied to Mr Puigdemont and the other politicians in exile.” The reason why? “You have to be in prison in order for this article (of the Spanish Constitution) to be applied, and they are not,” he said. “Without prison it’s practically impossible to apply that article,” which would prevent them from taking office he went on to say.

Pro-independence leaders are under investigation for crimes of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds, which can carry a sentence of up to 30 years by Spanish law. However, Balcells, who is an expert in criminology, stated that “the article of rebellion is not very clear.”

“The Constitutional Court, in 1997, ruled that rebellion is being understood legally speaking as if you have to be completely attached to a group where they have weapons, and they have an arsenal, and they have this structure in order to be able to execute this rebellion; which is clearly not the case going on here.”