How much longer can Spanish justice spend being dragged through the mud? Is it reasonable that European justice should condemn Spain time and time again? The latest case has come this Tuesday when the European Court of Human Rights has found in favour of Arnaldo Otegi in his lawsuit against the Spanish state claiming that he hadn't been tried by an independent and impartial court. That trial took place in the National Audience court in September 2011 and he spent six and a half years in prison. Initially, the sentence was for ten years' imprisonment, which was later reduced, and ten years' ban from public office, which was upheld and is still ongoing. European justice is slow, very slow. But it's implacable. That, however, is not the question, because justice which arrives so late is unjust by nature, especially when extrajudicial questions teaching lessons or the unity of Spain are ignored.
The Otegi case hits much closer to home that it seems, beyond how much one might like or dislike the abertzale leader. Because it's nothing different from what we're seeing in Catalonia with the case investigated by judge Pablo Llarena following 1st October last year and ratified, when it's had to, by the corresponding chamber of the Supreme Court. The public prosecutors' indictments requesting sentences of more than 200 years in total, starting with 25 for vice-president Oriol Junqueras, are also heading in the same direction. Nothing suggests that the sentences the court will hand down after the trial won't end up being very harsh, whether they're reduced a degree in the end or not. The state has copied its legal actions in the Basque region when applying its recipe to Catalonia. The fact that there people died, sometimes on a daily basis, and here in Catalonia there's been a peaceful process to call for independence has not been enough to alter the modus operandi of a state whose pride has been wounded and which is incapable of understanding the Catalan request.
The state knows that it will lose the referendum case in Europe if there's not a lowering of the charges as significant as to end up with only disobedience left. Something it's not willing to grant. But that will happen eventually. When, they believe, the punishment has served its purpose. The Belgian and German justice systems have taken the position that if there was something, it was only disobedience, beyond all the stories they've tried to spread ahead of ever legal verdict which has come from those countries. That's why there's no outstanding European arrest warrant and both Puigdemont and the exiled ministers can travel around the whole world, except for Spain. But, as the president of the General Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court, Carlos Lesmes, wrote to the judge of Barcelona's court number 13, Juan Antonio Ramírez Sunyer, hours before he died: "You changed the course of the History of Spain". With a capital letter, of course, "History".
The most worrying thing is that when someone lives always in the mud, they end up getting used to it. Otherwise, what is, for example, the U-turn the Supreme Court has made on the topic of property taxes? The fracturing of the Supreme Court has been necessary to back down on the decision taken initially, something truly unheard of from the highest court in the land as it is in the Spanish system. Nothing worse could have happened for the image of the justice system and the opinion the public will end up having of it.