The long-awaited decision by Spain's Constitutional Court to reject the appeal of last resort of one of the Catalan political prisoners and thus begin the process of bringing the case to the European Court of Human Rights has arrived. The Spanish court has waited a year to resolve the case, but Jordi Turull can now elevate his demand for a review of the disproportionate sentence of 12 years' jail for sedition and misuse of public funds to European justice. It was a necessary formality for the Constitutional Court to endorse the Supreme Court's ruling and it did so with two votes against: those of judges Juan Antonio Xiol and María Luisa Balaguer, both belonging to the self-proclaimed progressive sector of the judiciary; another seven members of the court endorsed the conclusion of the reporting judge, the conservative Pedro González-Trevijano, although it is worth taking note of this division of opinion on an issue in which the Spanish state has always been committed to ensuring that judicial questions related to the Catalan independence process reach Europe backed by unanimity.
Turull's path to the European Court of Human Rights, on which he will be followed by other political prisoners as the Constitutional Court rejects each and every one of the appeals they have filed against their convictions, will not be short. Recent history shows that the European judicial battle can be won, as Spain has suffered some heavy blows in a forum where Spanish courts, from the Supreme Court to the Constitutional Court and the National Audience, do not have much to say. From the beginning, this has been the real battle, in which the nine political prisoners imprisoned in Lledoners, Puig de les Basses and Wad-Ras have invested all their hopes, once it was verified, as they feared, that the 2019 Supreme Court trial would not end up issuing a just verdict, as numerous international bodies have denounced.
The legal situation of the exiles Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, with aspects of their cases having been heard, at different times, in countries as different as Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom, and even questions that have been sent to European justice, strengthen their confidence that the justice they have not received in Madrid they will end up obtaining in Brussels. Not to mention the knock-back that the Spanish judiciary was given with the total liberty granted by the Brussels Court of Appeal to former Catalan minister Lluís Puig, whose extradition was ruled out, and in a case that is already definitively over with the opposite conclusion to what the Supreme Court wanted. In the end, it is this which has always been the independence movement's battle, ever since the first arrests showed that the prisoners' time behind bars would be long and the sentences disproportionately unjust air and cruel.
The political prisoners accepted this risk and have repeatedly stated it. Far from settling for their sentences and seeking atonement, they have kept up two struggles: one, the call for an amnesty for political prisoners and exiles, and two, the quest to reach European justice as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court have taken the opposite path: delaying all their actions for as long as they can so that the prisoners' cases arrive in Brussels as late as possible. But it hasn’t been possible to delay them for any longer and now a radically different game is kicking off.