Cuixart: "Getting out of prison is not a priority; rather, it is to denounce the attack on our freedoms"The State Attorney General asked Òmnium president if he was aware that the 1-O decree had been suspended by the Supreme Court, to which he answered that "he could not speak of something in which he did not participate"
Josep Maria Camps
The Catalan independence trial resumed on Tuesday at 9:30 AM with the statement of Òmnium president Jordi Cuixart. By decision of the presiding magistrate of the Court, Manuel Marchena, the sitting began half an hour earlier than what had been done so far.
In his opening statement, Cuixart confirmed to Marchena that he would only answer the questions of the State Attorney General and of his defence counsel.
"The right to vote is earned by voting"
Cuixart's statement to the State Attorney General focused on expressing the will not to renounce the exercise of fundamental rights.
Cuixart spoke on his own behalf at all times but also as president of Òmnium. In this regard, he stated that he intends to remain mobilised in favour of democracy: "We want more democracy, the rule of law is not above this."
He stressed this statement by saying that, at this moment, his priority is not to get out of prison but to work towards solving the political conflict.
Cuixart insisted on the legitimacy of the mobilisations to express disconformity with the actions of the central administration, and he stated that "the right to vote is earned by voting."
The roadmap, "a statement of intent"
When questioned by prosecutor Jaime Moreno, Cuixart explained that the roadmap in which Òmnium Cultural participated in March 2015 was signed by then-president Muriel Casals, and he added that it was under no circumstances a "strategic document":
"The roadmap, in fact, is a statement of intent. If you read it in detail, you will see that it is not a strategic document, it does not contain any strategies of any nature beyond the intention -which was indeed of the public domain- to turn the elections of 27 September into a plebiscitary election."
"The preamble to this roadmap clearly states, although it is in Catalan, I will translate for you literally: "this roadmap is intended to bring together the pro-independence organisations that share the goal of having Catalonia begin a process of democratic transition to become an independent state if the majority of the citizens of Catalonia wish so."
"This "If the majority of the citizens of Catalonia wish so" in itself highlights that this is not a strategy, but rather an attempt to bring together the main pro-independence political institutions and to transform 27 September."
"I am a political prisoner, not a politician in prison"
When Moreno asked him about the decree calling for the 1-O referendum and the suspension ordered by the Constitutional Court, Cuixart stated that he did not hold a political position:
"I believe it is necessary for me to specify here: I am a political prisoner, not a politician in prison. I, along with my comrade Jordi Sànchez, who were imprisoned for being social activists, not politicians, the difference is that I do not have an in-depth knowledge of what the State Attorney General is asking me about, on the names of laws, because I do not participate in the day to day life of parliament and I cannot speak of something in which I did not participate."
A "linguistically competent" court
Moreno asked him about an email message that was sent to him by Òmnium vice-president, Marcel Mauri, in the summer of 2017, and Cuixart asked him to specify which one because, he stated, the Guardia Civil withdrew over 30,000 email messages from his personal computer.
When the message in question was projected, he translated it himself from Catalan into Spanish, and he took the opportunity to complain that this is not a "linguistically competent" court:
"If you could increase the size of the font, I will even translate for you into Spanish. This was one of the reasons for which we asked to be tried by a linguistically competent court, because the problem is that I must ask as a translator, whereas if the Court were linguistically competent I would not have to do so."
Marchena told him that that had already been "stated" by the defence counsels and that the Court "will consider it in due time".
Claiming the "democratic tsunami"
The prosecutor asked him about an expression that appears in Mauri's email message, a "democratic tsunami", and Cuixart claimed it as his own:
To reproach that I want to carry out a democratic tsunami, well, I do not see what is punishable about this, or whether I should take back those words; quite the contrary. Yes, we want more democracy, more open and more participative societies, and it is one of the shortcomings we must make up for as a society."
Getting out of prison is not a priority
When the prosecutor reminded him of the words of justice Pablo Llarena during the investigative phase, Cuixart retracted his statement:
"I would like to make this clear in order to avoid any misunderstandings: my statements before the investigating judge were related to a will to get out of prison at any cost. That is no longer my priority. I am a political prisoner."
"After 500 days, getting out of prison is not a priority. My priority is to have the chance to denounce the attack against and the violation of rights and freedoms in Catalonia and in Spain."
"My statement before the investigating magistrate was conditioned by the significant impact I experienced after entering prison, being sure of my innocence, as I am today, but I insist that my priority is absolution, obviously, but my priority is the resolution of the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain and the recovery of rights and freedoms in Spain. My priority is no longer to leave prison, as it was before."
The swearing-in of president Mas in January 2016
Moreno also asked him about a meeting that appeared in the agenda of Josep Maria Jové to "discuss the swearing-in of Puigdemont", and Cuixart denied that it was for that reason:
Jaime Moreno: "There is a note in this agenda on a meeting in in January 2016, in which Messrs. Turull, Rull, Anna Gabrial, as well as you, Messrs. Cuixart and Sànchez, as presidents, were to discuss the swearing-in of Puigdemont. Were you present in this meeting, do you remember it?"
Jordi Cuixart: "It was not the swearing-in of Puigdemont. It was the swearing-in of president Mas, who lacked sufficient backing, and this meeting, which was public, it is not only known due to the fact that it appears in Mister Jové's agenda, it was public, we said so openly. You should keep into account that all activities carried out by Òmnium, all of them, not only must be transparent, they actually are. They are all published and public."
As Cuixart explained, Òmnium participated in the meeting in order to ensure that there was sufficient consent to form a government, and he added that the meeting failed.
As he explained, he did not participate in any other meetings and, ultimately, there was no Artur Mas government; rather, Carles Puigdemont was sworn in.
The demonstration before the ministry of the Economy
With regard to the demonstration on 20S in front of the ministry of the Economy, the prosecutor asked him about the "call" for said demonstration, to which Cuixart replied that there was no such call:
"You say call. Allow me to correct you: the call was a spontaneous phenomenon. First thing in the morning, one of the main channels of dissemination, in this case, was the "El Mundo" newspaper, which send a photograph of the police entering the headquarters of the vice-presidency and, spontaneously, people from the bar started to gather around the building; the bar, by the way, remained open throughout 20 September."
"When we arrived, well yes, of course: obviously, when we saw that a significant amount of people was gathering, once again, as an exercice in responsibility, as Sànchez explained the other day, we took on responsibility for the call in order to ensure that, on the first time in the last 10 years of the pro-independence movement, we were observing an attitude that broke the mould of the response of the State to the will of Catalonia to hold a referendum on self-determination."
When asked about a tweet that warned the people gathered there to avoid violent attitudes, Cuixart felt offended by the way in which Jaime Moreno had worded his question:
Jaime Moreno: "Were you expecting violent attitudes?"
Jordi Cuixart: "Lets see here, let's see here, let's see here, with all due respect: I believe this question is disrespectful towards me. What I am saying is that when I said "Everyone go to Rambla-Gran Via" on my official account, adding that we should "isolate any violent attitudes or actions", what has always characterised us, as pro-independence entities, is our ever-peaceful attitude."
With regard to the attitude of the crowd gathered throughout 20S, Cuixart stated that the Guardia Civil did not act correctly, and he compared it with other similar searches:
"I would like to point something out: when the search began, the Guardia Civil did not take the usual precautions. On the day when it entered the headquarters of Òmnium, the police cut the road. The Guardia Civil cuts the road. And that allows them to be in peace, because they are carrying out a search. They do not leave weapons at the door, they do not do so. They cut the road and carry out the search."
The lunch of the judicial delegation
The prosecutor stated that the judicial delegation carrying out the search in the ministry did not "have freedom of movement" and Cuixart stated that this is not true:
Jaime Moreno: "Are you aware that the judicial delegation was unable to go out for lunch, that it had no freedom of movement?"
Jordi Cuixart: "That is not true. It is untrue that it did not have freedom of movement. A path was opened expressly for them to enter and leave the department of the Economy. And, in fact, many people did leave."
Jordi Cuixart: "And they were not asked for any kind of authorisation because outside, at the door, there was a pair of Guardia Civil officers and Catalan police who remained there all day, and who allowed or denied entry to people as they saw fit. But they were outside the building."
Jordi Cuixart: "They said who entered, I am convinced that those who wanted to leave were able to do so. It is true that there were a lot of people; it was a passage wide enough for people 4 abreast to walk through. There was a multitude of demonstrators, but under no circumstances did they prevent them from passing."
An "unwieldy passage"
Cuixart acknowledged that to have to open a passage was "unwieldy", but he defended that it allowed to peacefully resolve the situation:
"The police was doing its job, the civil servants were doing their job and the citizens were doing their job. Many people did not go to work to defend that which they legitimately felt they were bound to defend, namely, their fundamental rights and the right to self-determination, the right to self-government."
"Therefore, yes, it was quite unwieldy. However, I would not question the good will of those who opened the passage, in this case, the volunteers, who endured for the entire day, and I would under no circumstances question the purpose of the passage, which was none other than to allow anyone to enter and leave."
Cuixart distances himself from the "a por ellos" [let's get them]
In a new question from the prosecutor, which Cuixart interpreted as assuming that a violent attitude from demonstrators has been proven, Cuixart answered using the expression "a por ellos" [let's get them]:
"What I would like to point out is that, contrary to what your question affirms, the people had a peaceful and serene attitude, but it was with a profound anger, and with a great disagreement with what was taking place and what continues to take place. Fortunately, in Catalonia, this anger can be channelled without using violence of the 'a por ellos'."
"I am being judged for my deeds, not for my tastes"
Cuixart complained about another question from the prosecutor on the events of 20S which he deemed inappropriate:
Jaime Moreno: "Did you like that day, did you feel it is a day you agree with, with how it happened, or did you not like it?"
Jordi Cuixart: "Look... I believe that what I like or dislike is not the purpose of this trial, I am being judged for my deeds and not for my likes or dislikes. That, for one... and therefore, I feel the question..."
Jaime Moreno: "Let me rephrase it: were there few incidents compared to what could have happened, in view of the situation?"
Jordi Cuixart: "on 20 S, the citizens of Catalonia did not surprise me. Should it happen again, I am convinced that exactly the same would happen, except for [what happened to] the Guardia Civil patrol cars, which was certainly a display of very inappropriate behaviour."
Comparing the Guardia Civil patrol cars to the damage on 1-O
With regard to the Guardia Civil patrol cars that were famously damaged during the demonstration, Cuixart has stated that he did not like what happened, but that he was unaware of the extent of the damage until nightfall.
The president of Òmnium downplayed the damage, deeming it to be "anecdotal", and he took advantage of this to compare this destruction to that which was caused by the Guardia Civil and the National Police when they attempted to prevent the 1-O referendum:
"You are asking me if I was aware of the damage to the vehicles; I would like to add to Sànchez's statement. When I arrived first thing in the morning, towards 10 AM or so, I could already see press correspondents standing on the cars and, in fact, my common sense already told me that that was a very unusual attitude, to stand on cars, there were also demonstrators..."
"All this highlights that this was not the sort of call we like, in which everything is nicely organised, but it was what it was. The population wanted to legitimately voice its disagreement and we took on the responsibility of the moment. I was not aware of the damaged cars until 12:00 at midnight, when the area became empty."
"And I see this and think: wow, actually, the vehicles were damaged and I was completely unaware of it. But that was a mere anecdote, and I say so with all due respect towards the urban fixtures, towards the polling stations that were destroyed on 1 October and of the Guardia Civil patrol cars."
"I cannot and will not" renounce my fundamental rights
The prosecutor insisted on whether he had considered calling off the demonstration at any moment, and Cuixart said that they had decided to do so once the searches were over.
The president of Òmnium used one of Mariano Rajoy's expressions to refer to the exercise of fundamental rights:
"What we did was, at half past ten PM, to make preparations to call off the demonstration by holding a speech on the main stage and another on the Guardia Civil patrol cars. But we did not want to call it off, and we were not considering it, because our purpose was to voice our disagreement with that search, that entry and search in the headquarters of the vice-presidency."
"If you are asking me to renounce the exercise of my fundamental rights, I say to you that I will never renounce the exercise of my fundamental rights. To paraphrase a prime minister: "I cannot and will not", and I will never renounce the exercise of these fundamental rights."
"As many demonstrations as may be required"
When asked about the time with which prior due notice must be given before a demonstration, Cuixart answered that this is a highly established routine for Òmnium:
"I would like to know if Messrs. Pepe Álvarez or Unai Sordo, or any other social or cultural leaders, are familiar with the period of prior due notice that must be given for a demonstration, if they are aware of the specific law, of the period required by law."
"I am the president of a cultural entity that calls for demonstrations, but we always participate jointly in ANC demonstrations, and one large demonstration we performed was the one on 10 J and that, if necessary, we will call as many as may be required to defend our right to demonstration, but not to reproach anybody, but in defence of democracy."
A "majestic altar"
The prosecutor questioned him about an expression he used when he was on top of the Guardia Civil patrol car, in which he said he was speaking from a "majestic altar", and Cuixart refused to comment:
Jaime Moreno: "Which altar? Which majestic altar was this?"
Jordi Cuixart: "The scene."
Jaime Moreno: "Was it the scene?
Jordi Cuixart: "Ah, sorry, I said also from the scene. I do not know. Majestic altar... that I could see them. I have no further comments. "
Jaime Moreno: "You do not want to comment the 'majestic altar'. You were standing on a Guardia Civil patrol car.
The presiding magistrate of the Court told the prosecutor that the accused had already stated that he had no further comments.
"Completely unknown " until 16O
According to Cuixart, both he and former ANC president were "completely unknown " until the day the National Court sent them on remand, where they remain:
"Jordi Sànchez and I were completely unknown by Spanish society. Catalan society, the most pro-independence sector does acknowledge that we have a certain moral authority, which is quite relative, we are not gurus! But we were just two more people in two significant entities, but we belonged to an ecosystem."
"There is not a single tweet, not a single mention from any leader, any leader of any Spanish or Catalan party naming Jordi Cuixart or Jordi Sànchez, not even on 1 October! To use a colloquial expression: they didn't give a damn about us, because we were... because we were completely unknown. There is another piece of expert evidence that discusses searches for Jordi Sànchez and Cuixart on Twitter, on Google... Zero, non-existent. We were irrelevant."
"When do searches begin? On 16 October, because we were imprisoned. Wat happened? When we were imprisoned, we became references for Catalan society, beyond the pro-independence movement, and against my own will."
17 years for rebellion
The State Attorney General is charging Jordi Cuixart with rebellion and is asking for 17 years in prison, whereas the Government Attorney's Office is only asking for 8 years on the charge of sedition.
It is expected that, like last Thursday, during the questioning of ANC president Jordi Sànchez, the questions will focus on the demonstration on 20 September in front of the ministry of the Economy, as well as on the weekend of the referendum.
The State Attorney General deems that the mobilisation was violent and uses the destruction of the Guardia Civil patrol cars as an example. Moreover, it points out that Jordi Cuixart issued a call for permanent mobilisation and to maintain the determination displayed during the Civil War by making use of the expression "No passaran" [They will not pass].
Marina Roig is the defence counsel of Jordi Cuixart. The defence is arguing that the mobilisations on 20-S and 1-O were peaceful, that the only violence was exerted by the police, and that the fundamental rights of the accuse have been violated.
The board of Òmnium has issued a statement on Monday in support of its president and of the entity, which has over 140,000 members, and it has defined itself as "a bulwark in the defence of freedoms faced with intolerance, repression and the far right that characterises the political and legal activity" of the State.
- Catalan independence trial