Former ministers Turull, Romeva and Bassa, sentenced to 12 years' prison for sedition and misuse of public fundsThe Supreme Court deems all three to have actively participated in the "seditious action": Romeva by seeking international support, Bassa by opening the schools on 1-O, and Turull by presenting the urns and announcing the universal census
Josep Maria Camps
The Supreme Court has condemned former ministers Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull, and Dolors Bassa to 12 years' jail on Monday.
In the sentence, the seven magistrates headed by Manuel Marchena found all three guilty of the crimes of sedition and misuse of public funds.
The main argument in the sentence, with regard to Raül Romeva, is that "he was aware of the fact that he was promoting the creation of a parallel legislation and that, through citizen mobilisation and international support, it was possible to neutralise the capacity of government and judicial authorities to exert their proper constitutional functions."
The sentence adds that Raül Romeva "went so far as to publicly state on 28 September 2017 that if the referendum was won, independence would be declared 48 hours after the count was made official."
With regard to Dolors Bassa, the Supreme Court has sentenced her to 12 years in prison and 12 years of disqualification from public office for the crime of sedition in conjunction with the crime of misuse of public funds.
According to the sentence, Bassa, as Minister of Labour, adopted the executive decisions required to hold the Referendum. Specifically, it deems that she ceded the use of civic centres as polling stations for the 1 October vote, as well as for the Open school sessions during the same weekend.
It adds that she played a decisive role to ensure that these centres were open regardless of whether or not their headmasters should refuse to open them. She took on the competency of all school headmasters.
Jordi Turull has been sentenced by the Supreme Court to 12 years in prison and 12 years of disqualification from public office for the crimes of sedition and misuse of public funds.
The Court deems that he actively participated in the "seditious action" because he participated in the various meetings that created and launched the National Pact for the Referendum.
The sentence also explicitly refers to the fact that he was aware that ignoring Constitutional Court injunctions amounted to the crime of disobedience. It highlights that persisting in the organisation of a banned referendum was an aggravating factor.
Finally, the sentence also attributes participation in the "seditious action", the presentation of the urns on 29 September 2017 and the announcement of the universal census on 1 October itself as proven facts.
Between 8 and 74 years
The requests for sentences from the parties to the prosecution were the same for all three: the State Attorney General asked for 16 years for the crimes of rebellion and misuse of public funds, and the Government Attorney's Office asked for 8 for sedition and misuse of public funds.
The longest sentence was requested by the popular prosecution exerted by far-right party Vox, which was asking for 74 years in prison.
This was the same sentence requested by Vox for Oriol Junqueras, Josep Rull and Joaquim Forn, all on various charges of rebellion and sedition as well as criminal organisation and misuse of public funds.
"An extremely high likelihood of violent acts"
All three were accused by the State Attorney General of being the junior leaders of the rebellion beneath Junqueras, and of having executed a plan they had agreed upon in the knowledge that it was illegal.
Moreover, it argued that they made calls to vote on 1-O, being aware that there was "An extremely high likelihood of violent acts".
The Government Attorney's Office accused them of having "induced, supported and led sedition from their position as members of the government", that is, from a position of "authority".
Vox, on the other hand, stated that the condemned "violently launched the masses of separatist Catalan citizens" against Spanish institutions.
"The Criminal Code of dissidence"
The defence counsel of Romeva, Andreu Van den Eynde, argued during the trial that the immense majority of evidence put forward by the parties to the prosecution were from Court number 13 of Barcelona.
According to the attorney, the investigation of this court was "illegal" and that there was no "reliability" in the presentation of this evidence ot the Supreme Court, which violated the rights of the accused.
Van den Eynde stated that the parties to the prosecution confused "disobedience" and "rebellion" and that the result of the trial will b, in the future, a "Criminal Code applicable to political dissidence".
Bassa's defence counsel, Mariano Bergés, pointed out that in Autumn 2017 there was no violence from the pro-independence movement, but rather only "legitimate pressure" in the exercise of fundamental rights.
With regard to his client, who was then Minister of Labour, Bergés stated that the parties to the prosecution had been unable to provide any evidence that incriminated her with regard to the crimes she stood accused of.
The defence counsel of Rull and Turull, Jordi Pina, deemed the parties to the prosecution to have fallen into "ridicule" by attempting to prove there had been rebellion and sedition.
He said that they only had a tweet against Rull because, in said tweet, he attributed himself, "in a surly manner" not having allowed the police hotel ships in Palamós, and invoices from when he was not a Minister against Turull.
Pina further pointed out that the parties to the prosecution had wanted to force the crimes of rebellion and sedition by describing "protests and demonstrations" as if they were "rebel uprisings".
"Licit, legitimate and legal"
In the opening phases of the trial, the former Minister of External Action, Raül Romeva, defended himself by stating that what they had done was "licit, legitimate and even legal".
In this regard, he made a legal argument in favour of the right to self-determination which, he said, could perfectly fit within the Spanish constitution.
In his closing statements, at the end of the public hearing, Romeva stated that the trial against them intended to "deter an ideology", and he prophesised that "today it is us, but tomorrow it could be anybody."
1-O was not a "conclusive act"
In her statement, the former Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Family Dolors Bassa said that the 1-O referendum was not a "conclusive act" to achieve independence.
According to her explanation, they expected that it would "help them in negotiations", and she denied that she had broken the law by accepting responsibility of the civic centres during the weekend of 1-O.
The pro-independence movement, "a grassroots movement"
Former Minister of the Presidency Jordi Turull vstated that "the pro-independence movement is a grassroots movement" , and he pointed out that the organisation of referenda was decriminalised in 2005.
With regard to the prohibition of 1-O by the Constitutional Court, he stated that the Spanish government breached 25 sentences in 5 years and that nothing had happened.
In his closing statements at the end of the trial Turull said that he was being judged "for not having renounced political activity" and that the trial intended to achieve "deterrence at any cost".