General strike protesters appear in court but refuse to testify

Defense lawyer for 51 people charged with blocking A2 main road on November 8 expects case to be dropped

Protesters showing support for jailed leaders and protesters facing trial (by ACN)
Protesters showing support for jailed leaders and protesters facing trial (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 6, 2018 05:44 PM

A general strike held in Catalonia on November 8 to protest the imposition of direct rule from Madrid saw groups of people all over the country blocking roads and railways with the aim of bringing the country to a standstill. Some 51 of these people are this week appearing in court accused of blocking the A2 main road near Òdena in Anoia. Half of those charged appeared in court on Tuesday, although most of them refused to testify. The other half are due to appear on Wednesday, and they too are likely to adopt the same strategy and remain silent.

The lawyer coordinating the defense of the 51 people said on Tuesday that it was “unheard-of” for such a case to reach court and he believes the case will be dropped. The lawyer was also critical of the way that police identified the 51 people under investigation. They allege that police officers merely took note of their car registration numbers. “Most of them had their vehicles parked in the vicinity not bothering anyone, while in many cases the car owners were not even present at the time,” said the lawyer.

The case attracted hundreds of people outside the court in Igualada on Tuesday morning in support of the defendants. Among those present were high-profile supporters of independence, including MPs, actors and grassroots activists. Esquerra party member Ernest Maragall accused the prosecutors of trying to “dissuade” independence supporters, but he insisted that “all they do is show us that we are right, strengthen our convictions and more clearly point out the path we must take.”

The 51 protesters are charged with disobedience, which must include violent conduct for a conviction. However, the police report that the charges are based on make it clear it was a “peaceful” protest. Nevertheless, the investigating judge has identified two moments of supposed violence, one involving an incident with a car bumping into someone and a confrontation between a number of people. Yet, one defense lawyer dismissed the allegations, accusing the prosecution of “trying to create a narrative of events that did not take place.”