If in the old days journalists had to pin up diagrams listing all the ministers in the Spanish or Catalan government in order to always publish their full name and exact position without mix-ups, now the requirements have changed and what you need to be clear about are the names of the judges in Spain's Supreme Court, its National Audience, Constitutional Court, Court of Accounts and the High Court of Justice of Catalonia, as well as all the prosecutors operating in each of the judicial, para-judicial or simply administrative chambers. It is they who are the daily protagonists of the political reporting on the offensive undertaken against the Catalan independence movement. This is the great legacy which Spains' "deep state" has bequeathed to Pedro Sánchez's Socialists (PSOE) after seven years of Popular Party (PP) government in Madrid and a myriad of complicities between the two major Spanish parties. The PP, far more skilled, has woven a web of interests that won't be easy for Sánchez to unpick over time, even if he really wants to, that being something which, with this prime minister, one never knows.
Of all of those names, the one who keeps busiest tends to be the Supreme Court's judge Pablo Llarena, the originator of those European arrest warrants aimed at Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí which are sent and are then returned, a judge who has spent a long time trying to get Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and, again, Belgium, to do what he wants, with little success so far. Llarena's latest invention was to try to convince the Brits that they had to prevent the departure from their territory of exiled minister Clara Ponsatí, who has just entered the European Parliament, occupying one of the seats left vacant by the UK after Brexit. Thus, she was to be retained on British soil, since by travelling to Brussels she had the opportunity to settle in Belgium or some other EU country and thus enjoy parliamentary immunity. The Scottish judge conducting the case does not appear to have been very receptive to Llarena's masterstroke and his request that a reinforcement of precautionary measures be considered to prevent the Catalan's departure to the continent. And Ponsatí presented herself in the EU capital on Tuesday as if nothing had happened.
One day, someone will make a helpful list of all the defeats which Spanish justice has undergone in Europe and how virtually none of its courts' contrivances have been accepted. Obviously, it's easier to get away with such ruses in Spain, where, in the end, they play the roles of both litigant and judge. We are currently witnessing police chief Trapero's trial at the National Audience and, in some ways, it is a repeat of sessions we have already experienced in the Supreme Court independence leaders' trial. Trapero's defence lawyer is doing an impeccable job of showing up the inconsistencies of much of the evidence against the Catalan police leader and disproving that there was any collusion between the Mossos d'Esquadra and the Catalan government. But as in the previous trial, one has the impression that there is little to be done and the sedition offence is to be placed in the 'convictions' box since it has been decreed thus in advance.
It seems, in general, more important to close ranks in defence of the Spanish nationalist spirit than to try to quell a conflict and disjudicialize politics. So, one day it is Trapero, the next Ponsatí, some other Catalan in exile or one of the political prisoners, or if not, there's always president Torra who can be removed from his post, or the 2014 unofficial referendum or the spending on the October 1st vote to be brought up for the umpteenth time. What's important for the justice system seems to be, above all, that this treadmill should keep turning and turning and never ever stop.