ECHR has now received appeals from all former political prisoners

Junqueras, Romeva and Bassa present their appeal denouncing a case against the whole independence movement

2 min
Clara Serra, Andreu Van den Eynde, Oriol Junqueras, Dolors Bassa and Raül Romeva on Wednesday.

BarcelonaThe European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), based in Strasbourg, has now received appeals from all the political leaders the Spanish Supreme Court imprisoned over the 2017 Independence referendum. This Wednesday the last three were submitted Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) president and former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras and former Catalan ministers Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa. Now it is time to wait for the verdict. The appellants' legal team explained that all the appeals are expected to be grouped together into a single macro-case, and they reckon it will take "at least" two years to know the final outcome.

In their lawsuit, Junqueras, Romeva and Bassa denounce the violation of up to eight rights, but above all they want the case to transcend their personal situation and widen the scope to a broad case against the entire "pro-independence political movement". What the three appellants are seeking is a favourable sentence that backs the whole movement and, in particular, those who are still waiting to be tried. This is what their lawyer, Andreu van den Eynde, has expressed: "We not only want violations of rights to be repaired, but we want the case to be understood as a political case and we urge global solutions". How will they do it? By trying to convince the court that in the trial of the independence bid leaders in the Supreme Court "all the law was distorted to pursue not certain criminal acts, but certain people" with a certain ideology.

Apart from the political complaint, the appeal includes violations of the principle of legality; the right to freedom; freedom of expression; freedom of assembly and demonstration; the right to a fair trial; the right to presumption of innocence; the prohibition of abuse of power and the right to free elections. According to Bassa, the feeling she always had was that they were seeking her to be "politically silenced". Romeva summarised everyone's desire: "That we may find at a European level the justice we have not found in the Spanish state".

For and one against

Convicts can appeal to European courts when they have exhausted al their resources in Spain. In this case, this happened last March, when the Constitutional Court dismissed their appeal. However, there were three dissenting votes on this ruling. This will be one of the cards the appellants will play. "A third of the Constitutional Court that agrees with us," Van den Eynde recalled.

But some elements will play against them, such as the hypothesis that the ECHR may understand that, with the subsequent pardons, the convicted have already received a reparation. On this point Junqueras protested. He recalled that, despite the measure of grace, his 13-year ban not only from institutional politics but also from "teaching at the university" (Junqueras worked as a lecturer) is still in place. "There is a general case," he concluded. This is precisely what they will try to make the ECHR understand.