Dies des del Referèndum de l'u d'octubre de 2017

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By Josep Casulleras: Who is drafting the sentence? (3 May 2019)

Here is an English translation of an interesting article in VilaWeb by Josep Casulleras on the media influence on the future verdict.
Click here if need be to access the whole text



The Spanish press is already writing the sentence, and treats the 1-Oct victims as such

"It’s become hard to think that the court does not think exactly the same way as the Spanish press and King Felipe VI"

By Josep Casulleras Nualart
03.05.2019 21:50

On Tuesday afternoon lawyer Ramon Forteza explained before Manuel Marchena, that he had tried to help two young people who had been trapped inside the 1-Oct polling station in the Lleida offices of the Department of Social Welfare. Dozens of Spanish riot police had surrounded the voting centre, and people were being held inside. Forteza recalled his efforts to try to get in, and how at each attempt he made the policemen responded with baton blows and shoves. He tried four times, even dressed in his gown, and it proved impossible: he always received the policemen’s blows. In the Supreme Court library, where the journalists covering the trial against the process gather,there was laughter. They found that stubborn man funny, determined to help young people who were in the midst of a group of violent riot police who, in that same school, were capable of kicking a woman aged about sixty-five that they had thrown to the ground. Yes, they found that perseverance, despite the blows, amusing. There was also laughter when the Civil Guard officers described the rebellion as a finger being hit or a look of hatred. The difference is that, next day, in the newspaper pages, some testimonies were completely credible and others were challenged and, in some cases, ridiculed.

The tales told by the first testimonies of voters attacked by the police on 1-Oct were heart-wrenching. One of them recalled the sound of batons smashing on heads; another explained, with an anguish that did not let her breathe, the unbridled violence of the policemen at the Pau Claris school... But the vast majority of the Spanish press treats these statements with scepticism or disdain. At best, they present these testimonies as the other side of a dual, contradictory reality, which it is impossible to discern. Perquè aquesta gent explica unes coses 'que difereixen radicalment de la narració dels agents'. For these people explain some things 'that radically differ from the story told by the policemen'. It was expressed thus by the El País chronicler covering this trial, Pablo Ordaz, who in his previous chronicles had taken at face value the testimony of the civil guards, highlighting ’the hatred of ordinary people' against the policemen, without wondering the reason for those expressions of hatred or rage.

For the hundred plus policemen that appeared in the Supreme Court made a very well calculated speech, which was explained in the Spanish press as the demonstration that the behaviour of people during the autumn of 2017 was not peaceful, but violent and hostile, and that this proved that something like a rebellion had taken place and that the defendants were in a fix. They disseminated those stories uncritically, acting like an endless transmission belt, amplifying lies that could not be denied with videos or questions that challenged their intervention. Environmental violence surfaced everywhere.

In El Confidencial they emphasize the contrast between the testimonies of the police officers and those of the voters, but with a 'nuance' that the chronicler makes clear from the outset, viz. that 'the agents complied with the law'. It was not stated that people were exercising a fundamental right. And even more: that non-violent protest must not be repressed with such violence by a state that wants to pass as lawful and democratic. These Spanish newspapers do not even present the conflict; they do not lay out the contradiction between the obligation to comply with a judicial resolution and the right to express oneself and to protest against that judicial resolution, which, at the same time, also indicated the need for the peace to be kept.

The heart of the matter is pushed aside; it is not broached. The media’s reading of this trial is almost unequivocal, because the head of state made sure it would be this way from the very start, when the trial had only been under way for a week. Felipe VI said: 'It is not admissible to appeal to an alleged democracy above the law, because without respect for laws there is neither coexistence nor democracy.' The Spanish king reproduced the accusatory narrative of the prosecutor's office and the state's solicitor. And of the ultra party, Vox. The Spanish press, apart from the odd exception, does not at any moment address the debate on the exercise of fundamental rights. That is why it interprets a witness such as David Fernàndez as support for the prosecution's thesis, not as an appeal to the court to see if it is capable of protecting the right to demonstrate and to protest peacefully.

Ordaz wrote in El País: "Fernàndez's testimony, quite unexpectedly, turns into a bad deal for the defence counsel and a gem for the prosecutor." Continua així: 'La qüestió li va sortint més o menys bé fins que s'embriaga de si mateix i reconeix que va ser darrere d'una estratègia que es diu barrera o mur, de humà.' It goes on like this: 'The issue was going more or less well until he it carries himself aay and recognizes that he was behind a strategy called a barrier or wall, of human beings.' In El Confidential, Parera titled his article that day 'The defence counsels are trying to sow peace in the trial, but they harvest sedition'. It couldn’t be clearer. It is quite true that David Fernàndez’s testimony did not fit in with the testimonial statement strategy of Andreu Van den Eynde, Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva’s lawyer. For Fernàndez made explicit the will of civil disobedience, of the action of voluntarily disobeying in defence of inalienable rights.

In the repressive logic in which this trial is set, the assumption of civil disobedience is synonymous with a conviction for sedition. According to the El Confidencial chronicler, the description of the facts of 1-Oct made by David Fernàndez to the Supreme 'coincides, almost word for word, with the drafting of what in the criminal code is a crime of sedition'. That is, exercising civil disobedience on that day fits into the ‘public, tumultuous uprising to prevent, by force or outside the legal channels, the application of the laws’. The nine people accused of rebellion or sedition did not call people to deliberately and in an organized way prevent the action of the Spanish police; if anything, they urged people to exercise their right to vote, their right of assembly, of demonstration, of expression. It was people who left their homes to go to the polling stations to protect the ballot papers and voters from the violence of the batons, organizing themselves, setting up passageways, men and women with linked arms, others watching, warning if the police came, and all of this in a reaction that went beyond, that the government could not imagine. Is this evidence of rebellion and sedition against Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, Oriol Junqueras, Raül Romeva, Dolors Bassa, Carme Forcadell, Josep Rull, Joaquim Forn and Jordi Turull? Here again is the collision of narratives, of mental sets, that the Spanish press is not prepared to take on board, and it seems that the seven judges of the Supreme are not either.

For it is hard to think that the court does not think exactly the same way as the Spanish press and Felipe VI think; it is hard to imagine that this central debate on the right to protest not even being proposed, that this tension be ignored and that the testimony of David Fernàndez not be interpreted as the corroboration of sedition, at least. The limits of the trial have been clearly defined from the outset. Outside the Supreme Court, the limits are laid down by the Spanish media, indicating when it is, for them, unacceptable for the trial to become something akin to an accusatory proceeding against the Spanish police. This is an unacceptable limit, for them and for the court, that sets the limits inside the chamber of the convent of the Salesians.

They will not let the trickle of witnesses of 1-Oct voters that there will be over the next two weeks to become a trial against the police. This is very clear to Marchena, and he will limit the statements of the witnesses in this regard. Ja va passar quan el magistrat va donar laraó a la fiscal Consuelo Madrigal, que s'havia queixat It already happened when the magistrate agreed with prosecutor Consuelo Madrigal, who had complained that Marina Roig was cross-examining a policeman about the violent methods he had used against people in the polling stations. This was not relevant according to Marchena. And this week we saw the judge cutting off short another witness, the mayor of Sant Julià de Ramis, because he accused the Civil Guard, in describing the facts that he remembered about 1-Oct, of acting in an intimidating way against the population.

So what use will all the testimonies coming from attacked voters be? For some Spanish papers, to deride and humiliate them again, as says the ABC chronicler when speaking of 'exaggerated and unbelievable versions' that are designed to 'feed the myth' that mobilizes the people, making a direct comparison with the methods of totalitarian regimes. And what about the seven judges trying the political prisoners? Marchena has already said more than once that determining whether there were police excesses is not the subject of this trial, because there are judicial procedures open for this reason in several courts in Catalonia. They do not seem to have to take into account the fact that police violence was calculated to trigger a particular (violent) reaction of the people, and that the behaviour of voters and protesters was peaceful. At best, they will see if they can deduce from these witnesses behaviour that justify sedition, or a conspiracy for rebellion attributable to the defendants. Here's what the judges must be thinking, as in the chamber a man from La Ràpita or a lady from Sabadell stifle their tears to maintain the dignity of their testimony and in the library, journalists burst out laughing.


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