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March 17, 2015
March 17, 2015

Spain: The Supreme Court overturns the acquittal of the 8 accused of blocking the Parliament and sentences them to 3 years in prison

Author: Pedro Águeda Translator: Anna Papoutsi
Source: El Diario  Category: Protest
This article is also available in: eles
Spain: The Supreme Court overturns the acquittal of the 8 accused of blocking the Parliament and sentences them to 3 years in prison

The Supreme Court has overturned the ruling of the High Court, which acquitted the accused of blocking the Parliament of Catalonia, and has sentenced eight of them to three years in prison for a crime against high state institutions. The magistrates do not contradict the proven facts in the first sentence, but consider that the National Court committed a “clear error” by not prioritising the constitutional right of political participation –in this case of the MPs– over the right to protest.

The Supreme Court found that the defendants contributed to “the violence and intimidation of regional MPs preventing the normal development of their functions as representatives”. They also argue that the slogan of the demonstration against the cuts that were to be approved the day of June 15, 2011 –‘Aturem the Parlament’ (Surround the Parliament)– is indicative of its purpose.

The sentence of the National Court meant the support of new forms of citizens’ protest as they emerged after the Occupy movement  (15M). In total, 19 persons were found innocent in the process in which the Catalan Parliament, the Catalan Government and the organisation Manos Limpias (Clean Hands) [1] were together. Only one of them was sentenced for a misdemeanour, for using a spray to write on the shoulder of an MP.

The sentence of the National Court, now overturned, made the following consideration: “When the processes of expression and access to public space are controlled by private media, when whole sectors of the society have great difficulty to be heard or to intervene in the political and social debate, some excess in the exercise of freedom of expression or manifestation seems fit, if a minimum of effectiveness is to be provided to the protest and criticism as mechanisms of indispensable counterweight in a democracy which is based on pluralism and which promotes free equality of individuals and groups so that the rights are real and effective, as dictated by the Constitution”.

On the contrary, the Supreme Court believes that “paralysing the ordinary work of the legislature affects not only the fundamental right of political participation of political representatives and the Catalan people in general, but also attacks the higher values of democratic order”.

Sources of the defence expressed their surprise for the ruling. Even though they feared that the National Court’s sentence might be revoked, they expected a retrial and not a sentence by the Supreme Court.

Call for solidarity demo in Barcelona Saturday March 21, Plaza Universitat

cartel

[1] Far-right organisation created in 1995 as a syndicate for the representation of public function workers.

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