Juridification of the Independence bid

Constitutional Court also upholds convictions of Cuixart and Sànchez, who may now appeal to ECHR

Xiol and Balaguer again write dissenting opinions

2 min
The president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, during the trial of the Process

MadridThe Constitutional Court has upheld the nine-year prison sentences for sedition against president of Òmnium Cultural Jordi Cuixart and former leader of ANC Jordi Sànchez. The magistrates took the same decision as with appeals by former ministers Meritxell Borràs, Carles Mundó, Jordi Turull and Josep Rull. In the case of the last two, also convicted of sedition, judges Juan Antonio Xiol and Maria Luisa Balaguer wrote a dissenting opinion in which they disagreed with the sentence and argued that the penalty was "disproportionate". They have now expressed a similar opinion in Cuixart and Sànchez's case, representing a fissure for an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The Constitutional Court has issued an informative note in which it synthetically advances the resolution drafted by magistrate Juan José González Rivas. "The conduct of the appellant, in promoting material opposition to the police execution of the decisions of the Constitutional Court and other courts, did not constitute a legitimate exercise of the rights and freedoms of expression and assembly," the magistrates conclude. They consider that his criminal conviction "complies with constitutional norms" and emphasise that "it does not obey a spurious purpose of persecution or punishment for their political or ideological position".

Cuixart has reacted quickly to the news through Twitter and has already advanced that the next step is to take the case before the ECHR. "Political courts are never surprising. We will continue using prison as a loudspeaker of international denunciation: we are going to Strasbourg to accuse the State", he tweeted. The Court already had to wield arguments on possible violations of fundamental rights in the judicial procedure and in Europe as well, since the Supreme Court was the last instance for the legal assessment of the facts.

The president of Òmnium, who used a strategy based on the defence of fundamental rights, also obtained a particular vote that is close to the thesis that he expressed. Xiol and Balaguer already considered in response to the resources of Turull and Rull that the demonstration of September 20, 2017 in front of the Ministry of Economy had to be framed within the right of assembly and questioned the interpretation that the Supreme Court made of the facts. According to this criterion, the "Spanish democratic system" was not put at risk and there were no "tumultuous uprisings"

In the case of Sànchez, the rapporteur of the sentence is Santiago Martínez-Vares and the Court also advances some of the arguments. "The conduct of the appellant does not constitute a simple excess or overreach in the exercise of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly. What he intended as part of the concerted strategy with the other defendants was to neutralise the decisions adopted by this court and judicial bodies using the mobilisation of citizens for the creation of an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic, regardless of the procedures for constitutional reform. Their action clearly exceeds the limits of what can be considered a legitimate exercise of those rights to externalise protest or criticism of the actions of public authorities," he argues