Spain's Constitutional Court has issued its first rulings rejecting the release on bail of defendants in the Catalan independence trial. The judges have decided unanimously to reject the appeals presented by civil society leaders Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez against the decision by National Audience court judge Carmen Lamela to imprison them on 16th October 2017.
The defendants asked the court for protection of their constitutional rights, including their right to freedom (article 17.1). Having thus exhausted their legal options within Spain, they can now both turn to the European Court of Human Rights.
Sànchez's defence team, headed by Jordi Pina, argued that the National Audience court's decision violated his rights including his constitutional right "of access to the ordinary judge predetermined by law" (article 24.2), the right to an impartial judge, the right to defence and the right to freedom.
For their part, Cuixart's defence, led by Marina Roig, also argue their client's rights have been violated. In terms of individual freedom, they said the links between the events in question and freedom of expression and the rights to assembly and protest hadn't been taken into consideration.
The Europe path
These are the first rulings the Constitutional Court has issued on the pretrial detention without bail of those charged over their involvement in the Catalan independence process. The court has accepted to consider all the appeals on the question it's been presented so far but hadn't yet reached a conclusion on any of them.
The rulings mean they have no options to appeal left within the Spanish state, a prerequisite to turn to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
However, at least one of their fellow defendants has taken this step, despite not having heard yet from Spain's Constitutional Court. Former Parliament speaker Carme Forcadell argues that her "absolutely unjustified" imprisonment is an "exceptional case". Her defence has asked Strasbourg to deem it an urgent case, in which case it could be accepted for consideration in six months.