The neo-fascist attack on Blanquerna in 2013, still unpunished
Spanish justice continues its restrictive drift of rights, applying a double standard depending on who is convicted. This Thursday the Provincial Court of Madrid has again postponed the imprisonment of 10 of the 14 neo-fascists who on Catalonia day in 2013 assaulted Blanquerna Cultural Centre in Madrid while it was celebrating an institutional event. Everyone remembers the images of the assailants entering with a violent and threatening attitude, launching proclamations in favour of the unity of Spain and pushing those who faced up to them, such as the then CiU MP Josep Sánchez-Llibre. They did so in broad daylight and without much concern for concealing their identity. And yet, after being sentenced to over two years in prison (between 2 years and 7 months and 2 years and 9 months) --a sentence already ratified by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional court-- none of them has spent a single day in jail. The attack, therefore, goes unpunished.
The contrast with the treatment received by the prisoners of the Independence bid is so obvious that it is not worth discussing. It is more than evident that the Spanish justice finds it much easier to send a pro-independence person to prison (remember the case of CDRs falsely accused of terrorism), even without trial, than a member of the far right who has already been convicted. The Provincial Court's reasoning is that we must wait to see how the various appeals that have been filed with the Constitutional Court are resolved. Of those convicted, 10 have appealed to the Constitutional Court, two have asked for a pardon and two more have fled. This is also the second time that the sentence has been suspended at the last moment. The convicts are well known in far-right circles and some of them are even running in the Madrid regional elections with Falange - the Franco regime's party.
As chance would have it, the news has coincided with another sentence of the Supreme Court in which it affirms that Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) violated "political" neutrality by approving a manifesto that rejected the sentence against the Independence bid. The high court has reaffirmed this by dismissing an appeal by UPF against the agreement of the Central Electoral Board from 2019 that established that the centre had not stayed neutral by positioning itself against the condemnation of political prisoners in the midst of the election campaign. This is an obvious case of censorship, because universities represent their internal plurality (that is why elections are held) and have every right in the world to position themselves on the most diverse issues. How can "political neutrality" be asked of a university institution, which has to have as one of its objectives to promote the critical spirit? What kind of democracy puts this demand for neutrality before the freedom of thought or the freedom of expression of the academic community?
Spanish courts continue to undermine the already weak pillars of Spanish democracy and to move further and further away from European standards. And this is something that the rest of the powers (executive and legislative) and also Spanish public opinion should begin to see clearly in order to counterbalance it.