Monday, December 11

Catalan leader threatened with prison if Catalonia declares independence

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A spokesperson for Spain’s ruling Partido Party (PP) has drawn a comparison between the current political situation in Catalonia and the demise of former Catalan leader, Lluís Companys.

Pablo Casado, PP’s deputy secretary for communication, referenced Companys’ failed independence bid and subsequent spell in prison in 1934 when stating that Carles Puigdemont would go to prison. He even went as far as suggesting that “anybody that declares [independence]could end up like the one who tried it 83 years ago”.

It is widely anticipated that Puigdemont will declare Catalonia an independent state tomorrow – following an independence referendum in which the Catalan people voted to approve a separation from Spain. The referendum has caused worldwide controversy in respect of the way the Spanish authorities have handled the situation. Evidence came to light about police brutality towards protestors and voters, as well as Spanish politicians demanding that polling stations be closed. Even now, the referendum is being dismissed by Madrid as illegal and unconstitutional.

Mr Casado said the Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, planned to avail himself of every means provided by Spanish law and the constitution to fight any declaration.

According to El Español, Mr Casado has warned that in Spain the crimes of sedition carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and rebellion against the state 25 years. Mr Companys was himself sentenced to 30 years in jail.

Most prominently, he argued that “in history, declarations of independence by Catalonia have fared very badly, suggesting that, much like the fate of Companys, Puigdemont could expect to suffer severe consequences if independence is declared. He cautioned the Catalonian politicians who have supported independence that “it’s going to cost them.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria took a more empathetic approach, calling what she deemed “an appeal to sensible people inside the Catalan government not to fling itself into the abyss.”

However, she followed that somewhat heartfelt plea with a firm denunciation of Puigdemont, suggesting that he is a “fanatic” and lacked “common sense”.

The movement to overturn the declaration of independence gained further momentum when Pedro Sánchez, the head of the Socialist party – the Catalan opposition party – declared that it would support the Spanish authorities in the event that independence should materialise.

The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, Nils Muizneks, has now requested that Spain’s Ministry of the Interior set up an independent inquiry into multiple claims of disproportionate use of excessive force by the Spanish police during the banned referendum on 1 October.

In addition, Casado has indicated that international mediation was an option which had now been firmly taken off the table, submitting that the Spanish government had “nothing to negotiate with the golpistas” – the Spanish word for conspirators in a coup d’etat.

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Gareth graduated from Hull University with a 2:1 and is currently studying the BPTC at BPP Leeds. He joined Legal Loop in March 2017.

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