Joaquim Forn: "One good thing about prison is that we've come out with even stronger convictions"
BarcelonaJoaquim Forn (Barcelona, 1964) attends ARA from home through Zoom. He admits that he has not yet come to terms with the idea that he will not have to return to Lledoners prison.
Before leaving, you were seen discussing whether you had to put on a happy face or a funeral face. I'm surprised they weren't clear about it.
— No, no. It is clear that we were all happy, but the question we asked ourselves was: Do we have to show excessive euphoria when there are still people in exile or with all those who are indicted? I think it is a very normal question.
Whose idea was the Freedom for Catalonia banner?
— We spoke to Josep Rull, who asked me if I had any of those banners from the Games and I said yes. And we agreed that it was the message we wanted to show to everyone. I asked my wife to bring it to us.
The big blow you suffered in prison was when everyone was released, on 17 December, except for the Jordis, Oriol Junqueras and you.
— No doubt about it. It was very hard because I thought we would all be released and it was close to Christmas. But from that moment on I became strong.
Do you still think that "I was minister three and a half months and I've been in prison for more than three and a half years"?
— No, because I enjoyed the three and a half months and I'm very proud of everything I did with two episodes such as the 17-A terrorist attacks and the 1-O referendum. The organization of the referendum, and doing it from the Catalan Government, for me has been the proudest thing I could have done.
We are starting to look towards the future. Will you be able to go and see president Puigdemont?
— I have to wait for confirmation from my lawyer, but one of the first things I want to do is to go and see him. We haven't seen each other since 31 October, 2017.
What will be the message for president Puigdemont?
— Well, we would like to thank him because our situation has been resolved thanks to many decisions that have been taken in Europe. Therefore, our priority will be to work so that this flame continues to burn after more than three and a half years.
Does the fact that the pardons are reversible affect you in any way when it comes to speaking?
— No, I cannot live with the threat that I cannot commit any serious crimes for six years. I don't admit to having committed any serious crime, neither now nor before. And now that I am free, it is to say what I think, to do what I think is best. One of the good things about prison is that we have come out with even stronger convictions.
Do you understand your conviction and at the same time the acquittal of Trapero [the head of Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan national police]?
— It is incomprehensible and this will be one of the grounds for the appeal to the ECHR. The National Court ruled that the performance of the Mossos during the 1-O was exemplary.
Is this what makes you a political prisoner?
— Undoubtedly. One of the times that Llarena denies me freedom he writes that it is because I continue with my pro-independence ideas. It was the context of when Torra was president and the will to achieve independence is maintained.
The pardons have many godfathers, but perhaps the one who has just connected it is Oriol Junqueras with his article in the ARA in which he criticises the unilateral approach. Has there been a greater role for ERC here?
— It is clear that ERC has helped. I have spoken to Oriol and it would be unfair not to acknowledge it. I don't know the negotiations that took place but I don't think there have been resignations. The day before yesterday I also called the lawyer Francesc Jofresa, who was the first to ask for it. And I also wanted to send a message to Jaume Asens.
Pedro Sánchez says he wanted to be magnanimous.
— This magnanimity is relative because the Spanish state was beginning to receive major blows from Europe for the disproportionate sentences, admitted even by magistrates of the TC [the Constitutional Court].
The ANC [Assamblea Nacional de Catalunya] fears that the pardons will limit the ambition of Junts and ERC.
— Not at all. We have not negotiated anything and none of us will renounce to continue working. We will do it in a different way because we will not be at the front, but regarding our personal commitment there are no changes. For me we have to see how we comply with what the people voted for on 1-O.
Jordi Sànchez wrote in the ARA that the 1-O referendum was to force the Spanish government to negotiate.
— It's a pointless polemic. It was clear that after 1-O there had to be a negotiation with the State. I don't think anyone thought that independence would be achieved just like that.
How do you assess the position of the Catalan bishops in favour of pardons?
— As a believer I am very disappointed with some bishops. Cardinal Omella has disappointed me as a Catholic. We asked him to come and see us and he said that we were not in his diocese. It is an absolutely contrary gesture to the message of the Gospels.
What do you say to the people who were afraid on October 2017?
— We have to recognise that among some sectors we did not know how to explain ourselves well enough. On one visit, Jaume Collboni explained to me the case of a person who withdrew his money because he believed that there would be a corralito .