This coming week, specifically on Wednesday according to the schedule, the Catalan independence trial will come to its end, after more than fifty days of courtroom sessions in the Spanish Supreme Court. It began on February 12th, before the Spanish, municipal and European elections, with Pedro Sánchez tottering and in need of the support of the Catalan pro-independence deputies who had helped him win the no-confidence motion over Mariano Rajoy. And it ends with the Socialist (PSOE) leader installed in government having broken off - whether definitively, we will see - any link with the parties of Carles Puigdemont and Oriol Junqueras. It is obvious that the independence movement has been used again by the Spanish political forces, and the latest action of the Spanish government to help install the defeated candidate Ada Colau in the Barcelona mayoralty, instead of election winner Ernest Maragall, is one more example.
The trial, at the expense of the accounts given by the political prisoners and the defences mounted by their lawyers, has been nothing less than an accumulation of rights violations, with a clear tendency to strip the accused of their legal protection. One has sometimes had the impression that the public prosecutors, the state solicitors and the Spanish media have been at one trial, and the international observers, the foreign media and Catalan society at another.
It is obvious that the crime of rebellion has not been proven, but that doesn't matter, as the public prosecutors, in a political rather than legal move, have elevated their definition of the events to a coup d'etat; the misuse of funds charges are, at the very least, vague but based on several documents presented by the prosecution. And, just in case, they've added a new request: that the political prisoners should serve 50% of their sentences without being granted any leave from prison. As well, right wing parties Ciudadanos (Cs) and the Partido Popular (PP) continue with legislative initiatives to prevent the Spanish government from having any margin for a hypothetical pardon.
One cannot invest much hope in the verdicts that the Supreme Court will return. It seems that they will at least be on the high side of the sentences demanded by the state solicitors: sedition and not rebellion; 15 years and not 25 for Junqueras, and from there downwards for the rest. No one even slightly informed dares to predict prison sentences shorter than these, but there are also many whose predictions are for longer terms.
Catalan society, with pain, irritation and contention, has endured the trial of its legitimate Government, stripped of office by the imposition of article 155 which the PP, PSOE and Cs approved. Catalan politics is and will continue to be marked for a long time by this circumstance. The non-election of Maragall is also the result of article 155, as is the violation of the rights of the prisoners and the ridiculous pursuit of president Puigdemont wherever he goes.
And thus it is more important than ever that the different actors in the independence movement agree on a shared cartography and overcome the existing gaps in leadership through unity of action. Until this phase is set in motion, the independence movement will not be able to once again be inclusive, to generate hope, to be the means of overcoming paralysis and the motor of change that Catalonia needs.