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Former German Social Democrat politician, Felix von Grünberg, says he was shocked to find that an Spanish party of the extreme right was conducting the private prosecution in the current trial of 12 Catalan independence leaders in Madrid. Grünberg, who testified at the trial in March as an international figure who witnessed some of the October 2017 referendum, said that the role played by the far-right party Vox in the Supreme Court "would be unthinkable in Germany."

Interviewed for Catalan public television's political talk show FAQs, Grünberg also asserted that the judges "must decide based on the law" and not according to "the political debates that are being generated." He also shared his feeling that the trial, occurring in parallel with the election campaign, "is functioning more as a way of agitating politics than finding out the truth."

Grünberg came to Barcelona to observe the referendum and recalls his testimony to the Supreme Court as a "tough" day. He explained that he was certain he was "taking part in a process in which justice is being politically abused." In Germany, when exiled Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was released in 2018 after his detention there - in response to a European Arrest Warrant issued by Spain - it was already clear, explained the German politician, that there had been no insurrectional-scale violence, the defining feature of the crime for which the Catalan political leaders are at present being tried.

With this precedent, Grünberg felt it was clear that the accusations against the Catalan prisoners "couldn't be true". "I was there", exclaimed the politician, also rejecting the accusation of misuse of funds because "the Rajoy government itself explicitly said that not a single euro was spent on the referendum." The impact of politics on the trial is, according to Grünberg, causing justice to be used as an artifice for facts that can't be demonstrated, thus achieving a "phantom trial".

Focusing on the impact that the conflict between Catalonia and Spain is making in Europe, Grünberg says "the idea that, in Spain, justice is not independent of politics" is a "catastrophe" for the "economic world". If this belief spreads widely, the ex-SPD politician is convinced that "no-one will invest anymore in Spain, since the State would have final control, beyond the law, over any investment."

In Spain, historical memory has not been recovered

For the former German deputy, the study and analysis of the past is essential to guarantee political evolution. "It's necessary for Germany to apologize for many of the mistakes it made, and that is also true for Germany's participation in the fight alongside Franco", he acknowledged. Grünberg thinks that without the German intervention in the Spanish civil war, the Spanish state would still be a republic today, and that his country thus retains some responsibility.

Another part of the past which Grünberg believes must be revisited is Spain's own history. "In Spain, historical memory has not been recovered, and an even greater absence is that there has been no act of asking for forgiveness from those who suffered under Franco". To change this, the politician considers it essential "to assume responsibilities and for Europe to look into it".

The German politician reflected that he did not understand how Europe has so far been "so hesitant in its intervention" in the issue and he suggests that people "do not want to irritate each other by getting involved with Catalonia."

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