Amid the media avalanche dominated by the first case of coronavirus in Barcelona and the dialogue table between the Spanish and Catalan governments this Wednesday in Madrid, it has been difficult to spot the news story about the ruling issued on Tuesday by Prisons Court of Catalonia number 5 which concludes, unequivocally, that the Catalan political prisoners are not obliged to show repentance in order to enjoy the benefits that their prison regime allows - that is, the granting of leave outside the jail for prisoners who are classified under normal or open custody regimes. Following a request by Jordi Sànchez for a 72-hour leave which was opposed by the Public Prosecutors' Office on the basis that prior repentance was required, judge Maria Jesús Arnau rules as follows: "Prison regulations do not impose upon the convict the obligation to repent, nor to plead guilty and dispense with their declaration of innocence."
This is not the only point on which the judge gives the prosecutors a dressing down for their abusive, rights-attacking interpretation of both the prison regulations and the general prison law. The judge noted a key point, one which was already discussed during the Supreme Court trial, and which prosecutors Javier Zaragoza, Fidel Cadena, Jaime Moreno and Consuelo Madrigal had alluded to in their final addresses but the court under judge Manuel Marchena rejected. It was the proposal that the prisoners be required to serve half their sentences before being permitted their first leave. The public prosecutors' demand for this was explicit, as clear as was the complete silence about it from the court, which did not enter into a matter which was already anticipated as a possibility but which it thought beyond its powers.
The eleven-page ruling by Maria Jesús Arnau has so many quotable quotes refuting the prosecutors that it should put an end to a debate which I doubt very much would have taken place in these terms if it weren't all about a political prisoner; and about the fact that after Sànchez and Cuixart will come Quim Forn, Raül Romeva, Josep Rull, Carme Forcadell, Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Turull and, finally, Oriol Junqueras, who has the longest sentence. A similar process has been initiated by the Public Prosecutor's Office in relation to the application of article 100.2 of the prison regulations which allows work outside the prison, an activity in a centre of social assistance or care for an elderly person. At present, Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Sànchez, Quim Forn, Dolors Bassa and Carme Forcadell are already undertaking activities outside the prison for a given number of hours on some working days.
In a justice system that is clearly biased for reasons that are often political, it is heartening to find judges who one may or may not agree with it, but who make impeccable decisions that only take into account the applicable law and not other types of interpretations. Perhaps because during the so-called Trial of the Procés we saw so many irregularities that we have protested, it is only fair to mention when the contrary applies via an irreproachable judgement that, although it may be appealed, makes things perfectly clear. For both the present and the future.