Activist Marcel Vivet, sentenced to five years in prison for the demonstration against Jusapol

Generalitat maintained the accusation against him for public disorder and assault on a police officer, despite the fact that no image proves the facts

Xavi Tedó
4 min
Marcel Vivet entering the Barcelona Court of Appeals

BarcelonaFive years in prison for public disorder, assaulting a police officer and causing him minor injuries. This is the sentence that a Barcelona Court has imposed on pro-independence activist Marcel Vivet for his participation in the September 2018 demonstration in Barcelona against police union Jusapol. The court considers it proven that the militant of La Forja and Guanyem Badalona committed the crimes which both the Prosecutor's Office and the Generalitat accused him of, since the Government finally decided not to withdraw from the case despite popular pressure. Vivet was a CUP candidate in the last elections to Parliament, and the anti-capitalists had even demanded that the executive withdrew from this and other similar cases as a condition to vote in ERC and JxCat. The final ruling will be emitted within ten days.

The four years and nine months in prison requested by the Generalitat and the five and a half years requested by the Prosecutor's Office were based solely on the police version of events, according to which Vivet hit an officer of the Catalan riot police with a flag pole and injuring him in the wrist. The activist pleaded not guilty and denied having tried to break the police cordon separating the protesters from Jusapol members who had gathered in the centre of Barcelona to conmemorate the police repression during the Referendum on October 1, 2017. Several agents, however, identified him as the author of the aggression during the trial and the court has given full credibility to this incrimination. In the verdict, in fact, the court admits that there is no "conclusive" image that proves Vivet was the author, but concludes that the officer's statement is "suficient" to sentence him.

The magistrates argue that the activist, who was an adviser to Dolors Sabater when she was mayor of Badalona, took advantage of "the cover and sense of impunity offered by the rest of the group" of demonstrators to hit the police, when it is not accredited "not even minimally" - they add - that the agent had exerted excessive force. It should be recalled that during the protest, in which paint was thrown against the police line emulating the Hindu festival Holi, there were heavy police charges, which ended with six protesters arrested and 24 people injured, as reported at the time by the Emergency Medical System (SEM). The Court, in any case, only stated that the police officer was hurt as a result of Vivet's blows.

After highlighting that the accused's actions constituted a "serious disturbance of public peace" and describing the use of acrylic paint against the police as an "urban guerrilla technique", the court justifies the conviction for public disorder because it considers the flag pole the accused carried a "dangerous instrument", and refers to three Supreme Court rulings that consider sticks "dangerous weapons" when they cause injury to a person. In addition to 5 years in prison, Vivet will also have to pay a fine of €600 and €1,512 in compensation. The activist has already reacted via Twitter once the sentence was known: "They will never stop me. I will never lower my head in the face of repression", has affirmed.

Controversial pact offered by Government

The role of the Generalitat in the judicial process raised a big fuss about the fact that the Catalan Government prosecuted the activist, as it has done in dozens of cases against pro-independence demonstrators, as Alerta Solidària has denounced on several occasions. In December, the executive offered Vivet a pact that reduced the sentence to one year and one month in prison and a fine for assaulting a police officer. This sentence, provided that the public prosecution followed the same path, could have avoided his imprisonment. However, this pact implied that the activist accepted the facts and he has maintained throughout the process that he is innocent: he refused to sign the agreement and the lawyers representing the Catalan Government maintained the sentences initially proposed.

At the end of the trial, Vivet criticised the Minister of Home Affairs, then Miquel Sàmper, whom he accused of wanting to "clean his image" with a "miserable pact" that sought to reduce the penalty but at the same time for him to accept his guilt, and made it clear that "not even with coercion" would he accept "their story". He also added that it was "shameful" that the Catalan Government maintained the accusations and did not acknowledge that "it is the Mossos [the Catalan police] who beat people and take people's eyes out". Just after the sentence was made public, a protest rally was called for this evening at 7 pm in Plaça de la Villa in Badalona. The sentence has been criticised by CUP, ANC and Òmnium.

CUP MPs have criticised the Generalitat for having maintained the charges, revealing a new point of friction with the Government: the CUP's support for Pere Aragonès's executive included a commitment by ERC to minimise this type of cases. The deputy Eulàlia Reguant has criticised the judicial decision and has said that the Prosecutor's Office and the Generalitat go "hand in hand". On the other hand, Laia Estrada recalled that the Generalitat was represented as a private prosecutor and that this "has facilitated the overkill of the Spanish judicial apparatus". MP Xavier Pellicer has expressed himself in the same sense: "The absurdity of the government sending its own youth to prison for demonstrating against the far right". And CUP leader Dolors Sabater has written that they "want to destroy youngsters' lives to scare them and defeat their desire and their commitment".