Gabriel confident case will be thrown out after pleading innocent to disobedience
Former CUP MP, who assures her "principles remain intact", tells Justice Llarena she received no order from the High Court in 2017
MadridFormer CUP MP Anna Gabriel, who spent the last four and a half years in exile in Geneva, appeared in the Supreme Court this Wednesday. Pablo Llarena, the judge in charge of the Independence bid case, had already withdrawn the arres warrant on July 19 when Gabriel first appeared before the Court. In statements after her appearance, Gabriel explained the judge asked her if she had received an order from the Constitutional Court (CC) in 2017, which she did not. Therefore, she is confident "the case will be thrown out or sent to Barcelona". Gabriel, prosecuted for disobedience (a crime that does not involve a prison sentence) for having promoted the UDI in 2017 as spokesperson for the anti-capitalist party, appeared for about ten minutes and refused to answer Vox's questions. At the exit, visibly moved and taking no questions from journalists, she gave thanks for the support received, denounced that the judicialisation "should never have happened" and made it clear that her "principles remain intact".
As has always happened when the victims of reprisals for the Independence bid have had to appear in the high court, parties and organisations accompanied her to court in a show of support. Oriol Junqueras headed the ERC delegation, formed by MPs and senators; Josep Rius and Josep Pagès led JxCat's; Jaume Asens went on behalf of En comú Podem; Xavier Antich on behalf of Òmnium Cultural; Mertxe Aizpurua and Jon Iñarritu on behalf of EH Bildu, and Néstor Riego on behalf of the BNG. No one from the ANC appeared. From the pro-independence left, about twenty militants from member organisations such as Endavant and Arran, as well as the CUP, travelled to the Spanish capital.
Endavant wants her to return from exile
Lluc Gayà, spokesperson of Endavant –Gabriel's party–, has assured just before the declaration that exile "was not offering an opportunity for a political break for the Catalan Countries". "Given this, we understand that the best solution is for Gabriel to return, and there is a possibility that this will be the case. Therefore, to have her back among us because she is an important person to advance the political project." This position clashes with the statement made by the spokesperson of the national secretariat of the CUP, Maria Sirvent, who made it clear that Gabriel will continue to reside in Switzerland due to "work and militant commitment". In Geneva, she was chosen regional secretary of the trade union Unia (the main union in the country, with over 200,000 members) and is the first woman to hold this position. CUP sources clarify that Gayà was referring to the fact that now "she can return whenever she wants to and be involved in whatever is possible, taking into account that she will continue to reside in Geneva". The former MP was released again and will participate on Sunday in Barcelona in the closing event of the CUP's summer university.
Gabriel appeared voluntarily in court on July 19, after more than four years of exile in Switzerland, and the judge released her. He only obliged her to designate an address and to leave a telephone number where she could be reached. Her lawyer, Iñigo Iruín, also was involved in the return of former Catalan minister Meritxell Serret. Iruín is behind the change of strategy of some of the exiles, who as a result of the sentence against the leaders of the Independence bid, which already stated who was responsible for each of the events, allowed defendants accused lesser crimes could return. Iruín, a former member of the Basque Parliament, has a long career representing militants of the nationalist left and is also in charge of former Catalan speaker Carme Forcadell's appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
Unlike Serret, who was also investigated for embezzlement, Gabriel was prosecuted in March 2018 for disobedience. This offense does not carry a prison sentence, but a fine of up to twelve months and a ban from public office for up to two years. Her defense feared that there could be a change of criterion from the prosecution, but sources inside Prosecutor's Office and the Supreme Court gave assurances this would not happen. Finally, last July Gabriel decided to return after a "series of considerations, reflections and analysis that have to do both with the general political and judicial context as well as with a series of personal circumstances".