Misc 08/10/2020

From Operation Judas to Trapero: accusations that don’t hold water

Madrid cracks down on Catalan separatists with blown-up charges that lead to minor convictions

Marc Toro
3 min
L’activista sabadellenc dels CDR Xavi Duch, detingut el 23-S del 2019.

BarcelonaTamara Carrasco’s acquittal earlier this week not only attests to the fact that the Catalan activist was arrested on trumped-up charges, but it is also the umpteenth example of a court case against a Catalan separatist that eventually turns out to be inconsequential from a legal standpoint. Still, Ms Carrasco’s example is one of the few where the defendant has been fully exonerated, even if she has had to pay a personal price.

Operation Judas

The Catalan activists who were initially arrested are all free, even though they still face terror charges

The Guardia Civil officer who led the police investigation in Tamara Carrasco’s case tried to prove the CDR’s alleged “violent streak” citing Operation Judas as an example. This was the large-scale Guardia Civil operation launched on 23 September 2019 —shortly before we had a verdict in the case of the 2017 failed independence bid— that led to nine activists being arrested and charged with belonging to a terrorist group, manufacturing and storing explosives, and plotting to stage an attack. Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional court jailed seven of them with no bail but, since then, the Prosecution has failed to produce any evidence of explosives —merely chemical components that could hypothetically be used to manufacture homemade bombs— and, despite facing major criminal charges, they have all been released pending trial.

The Court 13 case

The Prosecutor dropped the criminal organisation charge

Barcelona’s Court 13 probed up to fifty high-ranking government and former government officials and businesspeople, which eventually led to the macro-case against the Catalan pro-independence leadership, where the Catalan political prisoners were convicted by the Supreme Court. At present thirty of them are facing charges in a Barcelona court over the 2017 independence referendum. No date has been set for the trial yet. The Catalan officials have been indicted for misuse of public funds and disobedience. The Prosecution has dropped the criminal organisation charge, even though this is still in the cards and could be brought back once the trial kicks off.

The trial of the 2017 independence bid

The initial rebellion thesis is discarded

The 2017 Catalan independence leadership (Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, former Speaker Carme Forcadell and six cabinet ministers) were indicted for a crime of rebellion by Spain’s Supreme Court. However, the charge —which involves a violent uprising and carries up to 30 years in prison— was ruled out by the State Attorney before going to trial and the panel led by Manuel Marchena eventually determined that there was no basis for it to stand. In this case, though, the nine defendants were still found guilty of sedition and given a prison sentence of nine to thirteen years. Former Catalan ministers Carles Mundó, Meritxell Borràs and Santi Vila were barred from holding public office for a crime of disobedience, but were not convicted of misuse of public funds.

The mayors who supported the October 2017 referendum

712 mayors were initially probed, but only ten face charges

Spain’s General Prosecution Office announced they would investigate up to 712 Catalan mayors who endorsed a motion in support of the independence vote on 1 October 2017. Eventually, only about seventy were looked into and charges were pressed against ten of them, including current Foreign Minister and former Agramunt mayor Bernat Solé. He faces an eighteen-month disqualification for a crime of disobedience and the trial is due to start on 14 December, as announced on Tuesday by Catalonia’s High Court.

The Trapero case

The former Catalan police chief may be convicted of disobedience, but he could also be acquitted

The Supreme Court ruling in the independence referendum case paved the way for the Prosecution’s fresh approach in the case against the former Catalan police top brass over their role in the independence vote held on 1 October 2017. Initial rebellion charges were changed for sedition, which still carries up to ten years in prison (as opposed to eleven). However, the Public Prosecutor is also considering the possibility of a conviction for disobedience, which would only mean a ban from holding public office for Chief Constable Trapero, deputy Teresa Laplana (who faced 4 years in prison for sedition) and former deputy interior minister Cèsar Puig. A ruling in this case was expected some time over the summer and should now be imminent. The court may chose to convict the defendants of disobedience only or even clear them of all charges, like they did with activist Tamara Carrasco.