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The International Criminal Court in the Hague has acknowledged receipt of a complaint filed by the association Querellants per la República (Plaintiffs for the republic) over the political and legal persecution by the Spanish state against the 2017 Catalan referendum, declared illegal by Madrid.

The organisation, comprised of lawyers and other professionals, has filed the complaint, supported by more than 5,000 members of the public, to the court directly for two charges of crimes against humanity against the then senior leaders of the Spanish government and police. The signatories argue, firstly, that the right to vote and the right to representation of Catalan citizens have been repeatedly violated when "with their votes [they] had elected political leaders from pro-independence parties to represent them".

Secondly, it denounces the Spain's National Police Corps and Civil Guard for their "degrading treatment", having "intentionally [caused] pain and serious physical suffering" to citizens who had "peacefully" gone to vote on 1st October 2017, "gravely threatening their physical and mental integrity".

The complaint presented has no precedent in terms of a similar political conflict. Querellants per la República presented it directly to the Hague because they believe there is evidence that no independent investigation nor fair trial can be expected within the Spanish state. "If we take into account that the courts of last resort, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, are the subject of the complaint we're filing, it's clear that they won't investigate themselves," they say.

The association presented a lawsuit against investigating judge Pablo Llarena to the Supreme Court in July 2018. That time, it was undersigned by 3,418 plaintiffs, but the case was filed in Madrid; the organisation is currently pending a decision on the appeal it submitted.

Querellants per la República Tribunal de l'Haya

Named in the lawsuit are Mariano Rajoy, former prime minister of Spain, Juan Ignacio Zoido, former interior minister, Enric Millo, former Spanish government delegate to Catalonia, Diego Pérez de los Cobos, a civil guard colonel, Javier Zaragoza, chief prosecutor at the National Audience when the "general case against the independence movement" was opened and Pablo Llarena. Similarly listed are Supreme Court judges Miguel Colmenero, Francisco Monterde, Alberto Jorge Barreiro, Vicente Magro, Manuel Marchena, Juan Ramón Berdugo, Andrés Martínez, Luciano Varela, Andrés Palomo, Ana María Ferrer and Antonio del Moral García.

Also included are the members of the Constitutional Court who were key in prolonging the pretrial detention of the pro-independence leaders with "the sole objective of achieving their suspension". Similarly, the president of the General Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court, Carlos Lesmes, and the president of the Central Electoral Commisson, Segundo Menéndez.

Now, the court says it will "give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court." Querellants per la República expect a decision to be taken within the next two or three months as to whether an investigation will be opened by the Office of the Prosecutor.

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