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Trial Of Catalan Activists Suspended In Anticipation Of Future Amnesty Law

First trial of pro-independence activists postponed as Spain processes law to erase prosecutions related to Catalan independence process.

First trial of pro-independence activists suspended in anticipation of the future amnesty law. A Girona criminal court has notified those prosecuted for invading train tracks in the city in 2018 – known as the ’21 reasons’ case from the label the police gave their investigation, 21 razones – that it has suspended the trial scheduled for December 12th and 13th, given the current processing of the law to erase prosecutions related to the Catalan independence process, as notified this Friday. The lawyers of the four people awaiting trial, Montse Vinyets and Benet Salellas, had requested the suspension of the hearing before the registration of the PSOE’s law proposal in Congress, and the lawyer for justice administration at the court, María Jesús Hernández, agreed, with the opposition of the public prosecutor but the approval of the Spanish state solicitor’s office.

First trial of pro-independence activists suspended in anticipation of the future amnesty law.  PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN LUE/UNSPLASH

It will be the fourth time that the trial of Berta, Josep, Lluís and Óscar, the four accused of blocking the AVE high speed train route in Girona during the mobilizations on the 2018 anniversary of the October 1st referendum, has been postponed. In March this year, the judge of the same court accepted delaying the trial at the request of the public prosecutor and the state solicitor, who are mounting the two prosecutions, because the investigating judge of the case, a Mossos d’Esquadra officer, was on sick leave.

Trial is due in 2024

A new trial date has now been set for November 11th and 12, 2024. Sufficient time, it is thought, for the parliamentary processing and validation of the amnesty law. If it is approved, the defence teams will then be able to request the definitive suspension of the hearing, since the alleged offences will have been legally deleted. The public prosecutor is asking for four years in prison for each of them, and in addition, fines of 12,150 euros each, for crimes of public disorder, causing damage and minor injury.

First trial of pro-independence activists suspended in anticipation of the future amnesty law.  PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN LUE/UNSPLASH

In the decree, the judicial secretary summarises the arguments presented by all the parties on the issue. The defence lawyers demand the suspension because the facts to be prosecuted are fully eligible for the amnesty, as the action taken by the activists was motivated by the anniversary of the 1st October referendum, and they also note the cost of holding a trial in which the four young people could then be amnestied later. It was an argument accepted by the state solicitors, who argued that the bill has indeed already been admitted to parliament for debate.

On the other hand, the public prosecution service maintains that the law is not yet in force, and even adds that “it may have an uncertain application in the facts that must be tried”, despite the fact that the crimes it charges and the action fit in the law presented by the socialists.

Given this situation, the judge presiding over the court admits that there is no legal assumption that allows a trial to be definitively suspended due to a law that is in process of being heard. However, she adds, a witness wanted by the prosecutors has not yet been located and the Mossos investigating judge is still on leave, in addition to emphasizing that the trial will last two days. And, she argues: “The amnesty law is current being heard in parliament and in its current wording includes, within its objective scope, the facts that are the subject of the present case, and if its approval is successful, it would become pointless to hold a trial with such a high material and personal cost”.

Due to all of this, she considers it “more judicious” to postpone the date of the trial, “with sufficient margin of time to clarify the legislative situation of the proposed amnesty law”, in addition to the need to locate the witnesses who are pending.

Produced in association with El Nacional En

(Additional reporting provided by El Nacional En)

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