A pending cup of coffee with Cuixart and the perception of October 1: Marchena scolds Salellas and GarcésSalellas protests over the "violation of fundamental rights that is constantly taking place"
Josep Maria Camps
The president of the court of the Catalan independence trial, Manuel Marchena, interrupted the questioning of witnesses of the defence counsels several times, and Benet Salellas, from the defence counsel of Jordi Cuixart, protested over the "continued violation of fundamental rights."
The most conflictive one was the statement of philosopher Marina Garcés, from the En Peu de Pau platform, which demanded that pro-independence mobilisations should not turn violent in October 2017.
The most tense moment came at the end of the interrogation, when Salellas asked Garcés about the day of the presentation of the platform:
Salellas: "In this press conference, which is documented in the proceedings and in which you participated, which is the message which you, briefly...?"
Marchena: "No, mister Salellas, the message the witness gave in a press conference does not interest the Court."
Salellas: "The press conference appears as an item of appeal in the proceedings, Your Honour."
Marchena: "I am not interested, mister Salellas, this does not interest the Court. If you have any other questions please ask them, otherwise make your objection for the record."
Salellas: "I would like to object for the record, on the situation of inability to defend oneself, the violation of fundamental rights that is continuously taking place..."
When Salellas attempted to ask Garcés what she explained in that press conference, Marchena interrupted him again and Salellas did not ask any more questions.
This concluded the testimony of the witness as none of the 3 parties to the prosecution asked her any questions.
A pending cup of coffee with Cuixart
This was, however, only the culmination of a series of interruptions by Marchena and objections from Salellas.
At the beginning of the statement, Garcés surprised him by saying that she had a pending cup of coffee with Jordi Cuixart for a year and a half, which did not please the judge.
After telling how she joined the demonstration on 20S in front of the Economy building due to "shared curiosity" with the people gathered there, the witness said that, on October 1, she was unable to spend the night in a school, as she had wanted to do, due to a low fever.
The suspension of the referendum, "incomprehensible" and "sad"
Marchena interrupted her, and when she mentioned the fever again, he cut off her microphone and asked that she only explain "legally relevant facts."
Marchena's interruptions became continuous from the moment Garcés described the suspension of the referendum by the Constitutional Court as "incomprehensible" and "sad":
Salellas: "Were you aware, on that day and when you carried out the actions you have mentioned, of the fact that the Constitutional Court had specifically suspended this referendum?"
Garcés: "Yes, of course. I believe it was almost impossible not to know. It was an incomprehensible and sad prohibition which I believe..."
Marchena: "You were aware of the fact that the Constitutional Court had forbidden it. Any further comments you want to make on the incomprehensibility or the comprehensibility of the question are irrelevant. Please, ask another question."
Salellas: "Were you aware that the High Court of Justice of Catalonia had ordered law enforcement agencies to go to the polling stations to prevent the holding of the referendum?"
Garcés: "Yes, I was aware both of the legal ban as well as the order to repress or prevent the holding of this referendum. I believe that we were all aware of this situation. What I can say is that I was flabbergasted on 1 October..."
Salellas and the perceptions of police witnesses
Marchena: "Let us see, mister Salellas. Let us see, you are not here, and if you are a lawyer or a professor of Philosophy you should be perfectly aware of this fact, you are not here to explain to the court the fact that you were flabbergasted or that you had a fever... none of that. You are exclusively here to describe what happened. What the learned counsel has asked you is quite clear: whether or not you were aware of this ban. Beyond that, all of your personal assessments and comments are irrelevant. Hence the fact that you will have to abstain from them, even if you would be delighted to make further comments and provide as many nuances as you want, because these added comments do not regard the facts, but rather, exclusively, your personal assessments, and they do not interest the court. We have no time to waste."
Salellas: "I would like to state for the record that the perceptions of witnesses of 1 October, when they were police officers, were accepted by the court. I object for the record for the way in which the Court does so."
Marchena: "However, emotional comments on being "flabbergasted" are one thing..."
At this point they both interrupted each other mutually and Marchena invited him to ask more questions.
Garcés' "script", according to Marchena
At a different moment in the statement, Marchena scolded Garcés for reading the notes she had brought:
Marchena: "Look, Ms. Marina. You cannot be reading a script."
Garcés: "This is not a script, these are notes."
Marchena: "The law bans witnesses from answering based on a script. If you wish to read from a script, the first thing you must do is ask permission from the court."
Garcés: "I asked for permission outside."
Marchena: "You did no such thing. Please leave the script on what you expected to say before this Court and answer the questions as they are asked. If you please, Mister Salellas."
Salellas: "I believe she can have notes with regard to figures."
Garcés: "I asked before entering."
Marchena: "Please ask another question. We will not go into a debate on what witnesses can or cannot have."
"Batons break many things"
Despite Marchena's interuptions, Garcés managed to explained some of the motivations that led her to become a part of the En Peu de Pau group:
"Batons break many things, even things that cannot be seen. One of them is trust in the fabric of society, among others. Fear and suspicion infiltrates groups. The task of healing, of taking into account the fragilities that enter a society when state violence irrupts is also a part of this healing task."
- Catalan independence trial