It is so rare in a Spanish court to win a political dispute with the state where the issue at stake is the criminal classification of a decision-making act connected with the referendum of October 1st, 2017, that it is well worth underlining. This is what happened this Thursday with the five members of the 1st October electoral commission for whom the public prosecutors were demanding two years and nine months in prison, despite the fact that they did not perform the duties of their office and did not even formally take possession of it. Nor, obviously, did they receive any instructions and their status lapsed after a request from the Constitutional Court warning them of a daily fine of 12,000 euros if they did not formally resign from office, which they all did.
Despite this corollary, the five commissioners - Jordi Matas, who was to preside over the body, Tània Verge, Marc Marsal, Josep Pagès and Marta Alsina - have had to go through a complex trial with the threat hanging over them for these three years of a possible prison sentence if the judge accepted the prosecution's arguments. A good example of the tension they have all experienced comes from a statement by acquitted commission member Tània Verge, who in a tweet put it like this: "With the acquittal of the Electoral Commission for the 1st October referendum the thuggery of the public prosecutors is put in its place and a sentence of 3.5 years of procedural torture is ended". Although the resolution of Barcelona criminal court number 11 is forceful and considers that the prosecution did not present any evidence of usurpation of functions and nor did it prove any individual or collegiate action of the commissioners after the Constitutional Court's pronouncement, it is not yet a definitive judicial victory, as we still have to wait and see whether the prosecutors will appeal it.
However, the key paragraph could not be more devastating, despite the convoluted judicial language that the sector uses: "Therefore, from the evidence considered in the trial and the documents submitted in the case, the said act of criminal wrongdoing is not accredited, because it is not proven that the defendants acted as officials or authorities and that they carried out an activity, a prohibited act, persistently and the intention of non-compliance, therefore, is not sufficiently proven." This statement should definitively bury the case, but it is not at all certain.
The number of people who have faced retaliation has risen to around 3,000, including those convicted, imprisoned and investigated since the autumn of 2017. Many people expect a solution that the Spanish state is not offering, nor is it capable to generate a framework to ease the pressure. On the contrary, the Spanish government offers no respite, and instead exploits in an absolutely partisan way a question as important and delicate as that of the pardons for the imprisoned leaders. The victory - provisional - of the commissioners of the October 1st referendum is a drop in the bucket, but it is not for that reason unimportant; rather, it is absolutely exceptional in the context that we see, and protest, every day.