Rull rebuts the accusation of rebellion by denying that he denied entrance to the 'Tweety' ship in PalamósThe Catalan minister has stated that to sign the decree calling the 1-O referendum was "one of the most transcendent moments" in his life
Josep Maria Camps
The Catalan independence trial resumed on Wednesday at 10 AM with the statement of former Catalan minister of the Territory and Sustainability of the Catalan government, Josep Rull.
After the presiding magistrate of the court, Manuel Marchena, announced that sittings will be expanded in March with a minimum of 3 mondays, Rull opened his statement.
The Catalan language, a "problem" in Spain
The former Catalan minister of the Territory announced that he would make his statement in Spanish, but complained that only consecutive translation of Catalan to Spanish was allowed rather than simultaneous translation.
Rull stated that this shows that, in Spain, Catalan is perceived as a "threat" or a "problem" when, in fact, it is the tenth most spoken language in Europe.
"I all too often have the feeling, and it is a feeling, that the Catalan language, which is, in fact, not a minority language, the 10th most spoken in the European Union, that the Catalan language is seen as a threat or a problem. If only the Catalan language could someday be seen in certain environments as something enriching or to be shared."
Marchena denied that the Court he presides sees Catalan as a problem, and stated that he has limited himself to legally solving the request of the accused.
After that, Rull confirmed that he would answer the questions of the State Attorney General, of the Government Attorney's Office and of his defence counsel, but not those of Vox.
He said that he did so "out of respect towards the people who suffer from xenophobia and homophobia in this country", referring to the explicit ideology of this party.
Consuelo Madrigal gets started in the trial
Rull has answered the questions of the State Attorney General which were formulated by Consuelo Madrigal, who participated in this trial for the first time. Madrigal was the first woman to hold the position of State Attorney General from January 2015 to November 2016.
Madrigal is accompanied by Fidel Cadena, who questioned Oriol Junqueras and Joaquim Forn.
Mobilisations in democracy
Madrigal questioned him about the so-called "roadmap" towards independence of March 2015, which Rull signed as the coordinator of CDC.
The former Catalan minister, who stands accused of rebellion, answered that this document was not a "strategic document" but "a statement of intent".
Rull added that the roadmap was drafted to provide an answer to "what a very significant sector of Catalan society was putting forward".
In this regard, Rull stated that this was not a call to mobilisation and he said that, in any case, mobilisations are "a fundamental element" of democracies:
"It is a mobilisation of the people, the will of the people which political organisations channel through their election programmes. However, mobilisations are a fundamental element of any democracy that perceives itself as a normal, healthy, serious democracy."
"Spectacular" and "massive"
The prosecutor asked him about a number of expressions she stated appeared in the roadmap with regard to citizen mobilisations and Rull complained that this was not true.
Marchena told him that if he did not want to answer a question he should not do so, and his defence counsel, Jordi Pina, intervened to state that the prosecutor had mentioned the adjectives "spectacular" and "massive".
Madrigal finally admitted that these expressions do not appear in the document.
Rull complained that the indictment of the State Attorney General's Office is mistaken, because it states that the roadmap was signed by 5 organisations, whereas there were actually 6, as well as the fact that it was not signed by the people the State Attorney General's Office states signed it.
The former Catalan minister reiterated that the political action they undertook "was bound to the mandate of the people":
"The Catalan government was bound by the mandate of the people of Catalonia expressed through the ballots. It was bound by an election programme that was presented by president Puigdemont at the time of his inauguration. It was bound by a mandate of the Parliament of Catalonia. This is the mandate. People vote, and it is a habit, and it is a good habit, that political parties carry out what people have voted for."
"The Constitutional Court has a significant deficit of moral authority"
When asked about the appeals for unconstitutionality that were raised against Catalan laws or resolutions, Rull complained about the automatic suspensions by the Constitutional Court through the use of article 161 of the Constitution:
"The problem is that this is the rule, constantly, systematically, and what we say to ourselves, and what I say to myself now, is: is it normal for this article, which is of an exceptional nature, to be used systematically as an ordinary article? Practically all legislative initiatives of the Parliament of Catalonia, by definition, are suspended by virtue of article 165.2 of the Constitution."
"The Constitutional Court has the capacity, within the following 6 months, to decide whether or not to lift the suspension. It has almost never used this prerogative. And we are talking about a great many initiatives, about many laws, with an extraordinary impact on people's daily lives."
The imprisoned former Catalan minister stressed this argument with a striking assessment:
"I believe that the Spanish Constitutional Court, and it is my opinion, has a significant deficit of moral authority. This is my intense belief. If I may, it is a belief that I may have, but it is shared by others in specific cases, and by relevant persons in the legal and political world ..., who hold a certain moral authority."
"If the democratic principle is ignored, legitimacy suffers"
Answering the questions of Madrigal, Rull has said that the decisions he adopted in the exercise of his political activity took both the "rule of law" and the "democratic principle" into account.
To this end, he reasserted his complaint about what he deems to be the "exploitation" of the Constitutional Court:
"There is a systematic, constant, permanent use of it by the State, and the Constitutional Court has allowed itself to be exploited, through which the autonomy of Catalonia is, in actual fact, absolutely minimised. Therefore, faced with this dilemma, our dilemma is: rule of law and democratic principle. We always considered both elements."
"Legitimacy, rule of law, democratic principle. If the democratic principle is constantly and permanently ignored, from my point of view, legitimacy suffers."
Signing the referendum decree, "an honour"
Answering the questions of the State Attorney General, Rull said he was very proud of having signed the decree calling the 1-O referendum.
The former Catalan minister has specified that this was from a "strictly" personal point of view:
"When, on 6 September, the government of Catalonia in its plenary session signed the call of the referendum, I felt that this was one of the most transcendent, important, moving moments in my political career. It was an extraordinary moment."
"To be able to accomplish, to provide the people with the tool to project its will and to do so in the most radically democratic terms, which are the ballot boxes. This honoured me, and I believe it honoured all of the members of the Catalan government when they did so, but I am strictly referring to my case."
"When I signed it I did so because I was signing a decree calling for a referendum, in accordance with a law that had just been published in the official bulletin of the Catalan government, which was fully in force, emanating from a democratic and legitimate parliament, which is the Parliament of Catalonia, and this decree expressed the will channelled through the ballot boxes in an election."
Rull on 6 and 7 September 2017: "Political plurality was guaranteed"
Rull has assured that, in the plenary session of the Parliament on 6 and 7 September which approved the call of the referendum, political plurality was guaranteed. Rull also repeated that, despite the call, the Catalan government did not spend "a single Euro" to pay for it.
Faced with Madrigal's insistence on the funding of the referendum, Rull said that, with the controls applied to the administration, it would have been impossible to assign funds to it.
The "moral authority" of the civil servants of the Catalan government
He also took the chance to praise the civil servants of the Catalan Government, outlining their "moral authority":
"With all these controls it is impossible to embezzle a single Euro. Moreover, there is another very important thing, which is the rigour, the seriousness and the rigidity of civil servants, the public servants of the Catalan government, who would have never allowed using such mechanisms."
"These are the constant controls, formal controls by the State, formal controls by legislation, moral authority and, in this case, Your Honour, I would like to stress: moral authority of the civil servants of the civil servants of the Catalan government, my department."
The Catalan government, "a mere management company"
Despite this, Rull also complained about the exhaustive control exerted by the central administration on the Catalan government:
"They left the Catalan government as a mere management company. And this, we believe, runs contrary to the basic tenets of the political autonomy of the Catalan government or of that of any other self-governing region."
Rull has stated that this "significant cut to self government" "deactivated" the operational autonomy of the Catalan government.
The "level of violence" on 1-O
When asked about what happened on 1-O and whether or not he was afraid of what could happen, the former Catalan minister was categorical:
"I would never, ever have imagined that the law enforcement of the state would deploy the level of violence they did."
"I would have never imagined that, when faced with peaceful people, with young people, old people, grandparents, with extraordinary dignity, peacefully and civically defending their ideals, I would have never imagined a level of violence such as that which was deployed, before, I insist, peaceful and democratic people."
Madrigal made some mistakes when formulating her questions: in one of them she stated that the Constitutional Court had annulled the law of transition on September 2017.
Rull corrected her, stating that the Constitutional Court did not annul it, but rather, suspended it. Madrigal admitted her mistake and apologised.
In one of his answers, the former Catalan minister took the chance to recall the visits they received in prison from members of the European Parliament. Marchena told him off:
Manuel Marchena: "You will have an allocution statement in which you will be able to express all your arguments on the members of parliament. Your defence counsel will be able to express all of your arguments on the reception of the problem at the European level. The prosecutor has asked you a very specific question."
The "political narrative" abroad
The former Catalan minister of the Territory and Sustainability defended the external action of the Catalan government: in his words, it would have been "reckless" to renounce it:
"Those countries that have offices of the Catalan government, whether they are direct offices of the Catalan government or commercial offices of the Catalan government, the financial volume that is generated both in terms of exports or capturing foreign investments is extraordinary."
"It would therefore be reckless, I believe, for the Catalan government, or any other government, to renounce carrying out actions abroad in the benefit of its culture, for its economy, and to have a political narrative."
The rally in front of the ministry of Economy
After a half an hour recess, Madrigal resumed the interrogation to Rull with questions related to the supposed violence exerted by part of the independence movement.
Regarding the rally before the Ministry of Economy during the searches conducted by the Guardia Civil on September 20, and following a question on the wrecked cars, Rull assured that it was "mainly a peaceful and civic" demonstration:
"What I saw was peaceful, civic and with specific reprehensible expressions, which I categorically reject. These were very punctual just like the one with the cars, and I reject it in a categorical way."
Rull has insisted on the idea that both the demonstration and protest rights are essential in democracy, and has criticized the terms in which the prosecution has described pro-independence demonstrations, including those of September 11:
""You speak of a tumult, of the crowd, of an instrument of coercion. For we must have different perceptions in most cases, because in most cases I see expressions that are absolutely normal in a state of law."
When asked about other moments in which violence and mockery supposedly took place, the former Catalan minister explained that he also had to enter and leave some acts protected by the police because there were protests against him, but that should not be considered extraordinary, nor is it a crime.
The Policía Nacional and the CUP party on the 20th
As Jordi Turull did on Tuesday, the former Catalan minister Rull referred to the attempt of the Policía Nacional to enter the headquarters of the CUP party without a court order on the same day, describing it as an "abuse of the rule of law":
"Do you know what I saw? I saw how on September 20 the state security forces tried to make a search without a court order at the headquarters of the CUP party. And I saw how CUP militants and many other citizens held a civic, peaceful, democratic resistance to what was an abuse of the rule of law. This I did see, any other than that, I did not see."
"I would love the highways to be under my competence"
The prosecutor asked him about the demonstrations of students who cut the AP-7 highway:
Consuelo Madrigal: "This was your competence, the competence of the Ministry of the Territory, was it not?
Josep Rull: "No, this is not the responsibility of the Ministry of the Territory, it is the responsibility of ..."
Consuelo Madrigal: "I mean the highway."
Josep Rull: "I would love the highways to be under my competence, but it is under the state's competence. That's why things are not going so well."
Madrigal went back to relate the road map and the mobilizations, and Rull complained:
"It has become clear that the road map that I signed did not make any reference whatsoever to mobilization, none. But if you want to insist on pointing something that is not, insist as many times as you want."
The Tweety' ship
Madrigal asked Rull over the refusal of the entry of Moby Dada - the ship that hosted policemen - into the port of Palamós, being this one of the main arguments of the prosecution to accuse him of rebellion.
Rull stated that the refusal was not ordered by him, but Ports de la Generalitat, the reason being that the request was not made following the regulatory steps:
"Ports de la Generalitat rejected the entry of that ship, as it would have rejected the entry of any other ship in similar conditions. For two reasons. That ship did not use the established mechanisms to request the mooring in a port of the Generalitat nor in a port of the State.
"In our defense, we have provided all the scripts of that day in the port of Palamós, on the 19th and the 20th, related to mooring requests. And the ship in question does not appear because it did not make any kind of request."
He did not know that policemen would be staying in the ship
He has also argued that this port was too small for the ship to moor, being that the reason why the Moby Dada finally settled in Barcelona, where it arrived on the 20th.
Rull added that he did not even know that he wanted to house cops on the ship, and that those responsible for the ship did not explain it until the ship was already in port.
The former Catalan minister has criticized that the ship was not the right place to house policemen:
"These types of boats are not suitable for hosting such an important volume of people for so long. Hosted, I would dare saying piled up, in conditions that were not appropriate."
16 years in prison for rebellion
The Prosecutor's Office is asking for the former Catalan minister 16 years in prison for the crimes of rebellion and misuse of public funds. The State Lawyer requests 11 years and 6 months in prison for sedition and misuse of public funds, and the popular accusation of Vox requests 74 years in prison for rebellion, criminal organization and misuse of public funds.
Rull has been imprisoned in two periods: the first, from November to December 2017, when he was released. On March 23, 2018, however, the judge of the Supreme Court Pablo Llarena sent him back to prison, where he still continues, as Dolors Bassa. Both have already spent the same time incarcerated.
The statements, in principle, will continue in the order set by the Prosecutor's Office, unless the defenses request a change. Thus, after Rull it will be the turn of former Catalan minister Dolors Bassa, followed, in this order, by Meritxell Borràs, Carles Mundó, Santi Vila, Jordi Sánchez, Jordi Cuixart and Carme Forcadell.
- Catalan independence trial