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The criminal law professor Joan Queralt (Barcelona, 1951) is in this new legislature a senator for the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), representing Barcelona in an upper house in which the People's Party (PP) will enjoy a comfortable majority. Queralt, who took the step of entering politics for the first time in this last general election on 23rd July, becomes a representative at a time when the 14 deputies of the pro-independence parties - despite their fall in electoral support, especially ERC - are essential to Pedro Sánchez's hopes to form a government. And to achieve an agreement that will allow this, the clearest condition that the Republicans have put on the table is an amnesty law, a term which the Socialists (PSOE) tend to avoid, without going as far as closing the door on it. talks to the professor and now senator about the content of such a law and the repercussions it could have in the Catalan independence movement.

Since July 23rd, ERC has put the amnesty on the table and has made it clear that it is a red line in the negotiations with the PSOE. Does this mean that if Pedro Sánchez does not commit to an amnesty law, he cannot count on ERC's votes?
There is something that has gone unnoticed because a lot of emphasis has been placed on the use of Catalan in Europe, which is a very important issue. In one of the documents that was signed with ERC, the term "dejudicialization by all legal means" was used. The condition for ERC to accept the Congressional Bureau proposed by PSOE and Sumar was the amnesty. The PSOE and Sumar have already entered this framework, they have already taken this step. Now, if they go back on that...

In these documents, however, the word amnesty does not appear anywhere.
Everyone has to eat their own humble pie and they can cook it as they like. If they don't want to use the word "amnesty" and prefer to give another term that has the same effects as an amnesty, it is exactly the same. Things are what they are, not what they are called. In politics there is a whole range of nuances possible in order to reach the same point. We want to do it, and it seems that the PSOE and Sumar do too.

Sumar should not be an intermediary, it has to demand the amnesty from the PSOE 

The party that has taken the most steps in this regard is Sumar​, which has shown itself on repeated occasions in favour of an amnesty law. How do you rate that?
Sumar has taken a peculiar position, as a intermediary between the PSOE and ERC. And that's not their job, they just have to say yes to the amnesty. Instead of acting as intermediaries, they should go to the PSOE and demand an amnesty, whatever synonym they use.

What would getting the amnesty mean for the movement?
It must be understood that it is not a pardon, it does not do what a pardon would, but that it means erasing the crime and the penalty. This means that criminal records also disappear. It is what we must achieve to really give stability to the country, because there is a political conflict recognized by the PSOE.

Would one of these steps be the dialogue table that is now in a hiatus, but that a year ago, at the end of July, met and reached an accord on the concept of dejudicialization?
Yes. There was prior work done that was very important, such as the pardons, the repeal of the crime of sedition and the reform of the offrences of public disorder, although this "failed" with the offences of misuse of public funds, as the Supreme Court did not accept it,

Sánchez has shown himself to have a cast-iron stomach, you can't call him cowardly or timid

At the time, the reform of the Penal Code was very controversial, especially for the Spanish right. It even provoked a motion of no confidence against Pedro Sánchez. With this in mind, can can the PSOE go further and accept the amnesty law, whatever name it has?
The PSOE has shown itself to have a cast-iron stomach, and especially Pedro Sánchez. He himself has shown, and not only with Catalonia but also with his own party, that you can call him many things, but he is neither cowardly nor timid.

ERC has been negotiating with the PSOE for some time and the investiture is a new step. Does this make conversations easier?
Dialogue exists, but it is not easy. Each political group has its foundations and its limits. Now we have to sit down and negotiate again.

In the month that has passed since the general election, the PSOE has not got closed the door on an amnesty law, unlike the referendum.
From a methodological perspective, the file on self-determination and the referendum cannot be opened until the file on the amnesty has been closed. You cannot go to a political dialogue when there are people banned from office, convicted, in exile or whose family and personal assets are in danger from the Court of Accounts. This also contributes to gradually creating solid and well-constructed blocks in the dialogue. All of this may seem slower, but it ultimately leads us to our goal, which is self-determination.

Achieving the amnesty does not that afterwards all will be sweetness and light 

The general secretary of ERC, Marta Rovira, asserted in an interview that the amnesty could represent an end point in the conflict with the Spanish state. Do you share that idea?
Sometimes words betray us a little. I did not understand it as an "end point" in the style of Argentina's impunity laws, but an end point of a given stage. The idea is to close the stage of the open and bloody political conflict and open another one. We have a filing cabinet that contains many folders. That does not mean that if the amnesty is achieved, everything is sweetness and light or that the conflict is over, but rather, that it has been channelled into politics, which is an area that it should never have left.

After the general election, there was a lot of talk about unity of action among the pro-independence parties, and the fact that ERC and Junts were negotiating a possible investiture together. Now, Junts has given the view that the Laura Borràs case should be included in the amnesty. Do you agree?
I believe, myself and 76% of the Parliament of Catalonia, that it is a matter that has nothing to do with either the 2014 or 2017 independence consultations. It is a matter of administrative contracting that was done in violation of all procedures and it has nothing to do with the independence movement. That it was done by a person who is clearly pro-independence would be a bit like a papal bull: "I can do this because I am pro-independence".

The strategies of the pro-independence partues may have different tempos, but they cannot be opposed

However, at Junts, they do consider it a case of repression. Could this cause problems when negotiating the investiture of Sánchez together?
We do not ask to move more quickly than necessary. Things have to mature a lot and the situation is not at all easy and personal situations have a lot of influence. We are coming out of a period of serious disagreements within the pro-independence side. So there is the need to find a certain coordination of action, each respecting the independence of the other and their political approaches but bearing in mind that if all the groups want the same thing, the strategies may have different tempos, but they cannot be opposed.