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The differences between Together for Catalonia (Junts) and the Spanish Socialists (PSOE) have resulted, this Tuesday, in the amnesty bill not being passed by Congress. The negotiations between the two parties did not come to fruition, but that does not mean that the legislative proposal is dead. There is still time: the bill for the Catalan independence process amnesty will now backtrack in its legislative journey through the lower house and will return to the justice committee. The PSOE is now left with no choice but to renegotiate the bill with Carles Puigdemont if it wants a definitive 'yes'. This Tuesday, the Socialists did not accept any of Junts's amendments, aimed, broadly speaking, at protecting Catalan independentists from the persecution of the movement through crimes of terrorism and treason. This has meant that the party led in Madrid by Míriam Nogueras voted in favour of the justice committee's returning of the revised text (177 votes in favour to 172 against), but voted 'no' to the final draft in a final vote in which an absolute majority (176) was required.

Thus, the PSOE voted against all the Junts amendments, the ones which it originally presented alone, as well as the transactional, or compromise, amendment with the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) - which eliminated the word "terrorism" and kept the reference to the Human Rights Convention, and the three transactional changes with the Basque Nationalists (PNV), one of which alluded to crimes of treason. However, the draft text did not undergo any modification. What scenario lies ahead now? The text returns to the justice committee, where the parliamentary parties will be able to present new transactional amendments and will have to approve another revised text within fifteen days. Junts continues to demand that it is absolutely necessary for terrorism and treason to be struck out from the exclusions, and sources from this party assert that these two demands will remain as "red lines".

Junts says that "halfway" is nowhere, while ERC says they've fallen into a trap

In her speech, the spokesperson for Junts in Congress, Míriam Nogueras, stressed that the current wording of the law, as it emerged from the justice committee last week, has "loopholes which the abusive Spanish justice system can use to make the law useless" and leave the independence movement "exposed to the arbitrariness" of Spanish judges. Nogueras argued that "stopping the repression half-way is not stopping it" and that the current wording supposes "a selective and deferred amnesty", which is not what Junts and the PSOE agreed upon. "Repression is happening right in front of our noses, aren't we going to do anything?" asked Nogueras from the lectern.


Míriam Nogueras (Junts) in Congress: "No supporters of Spanish union have been prosecuted simply because of what they are, whereas the independentists are prosecuted, have faced prison, exile, massive fines, charges just because of what we are."

ERC did not agree with this reading. MP Pilar Vallugera accused Junts of "falling into the trap" of the Spanish judiciary, of playing cat and mouse with the legislation. "This law is not about Puigdemont or Rovira, but rather about the people whose lives have been placed on trial because of the repression", said the Republican politician, who reiterated that the problems this law may have in the future "are not about articulation, but about application", given the judges that are willing to do anything against independence. Vallugera stressed that having passed the law this Tuesday "would have guaranteed an amnesty to all our people".

The third protagonist in this movie, the PSOE, maintains that "the law is solid and cannot undergo changes with every new news story that comes out; what we have before us is a law for a generation, not to respond to the headlines of the day", said Socialist sources.


Pilar Vallugera (ERC): "This amnesty is not about Puigdemont or Rovira, but about the 1,500 people who for the last 7 years have had their lives placed on trial"

García-Castellón, Aguirre and the exceptions of terrorism and treason

Junts's decision comes after the latest manoeuvres by judges Manuel García-Castellón and Joaquín Aguirre, who intend to evade the amnesty law by charging independentists with crimes of terrorism and treason. The most recent move came 24 hours ago, when the judge of Barcelona Court No 1 in Barcelona extended the investigation of one of the sections of the Volhov case and reiterated his claim implicating Carles Puigdemont in a Russian plot, connecting the currently exiled Catalan president to the Kremlin. In response to this, Junts emphasized the need to remove the exclusion of two crimes from the amnesty: not only that of terrorism, but also that of high treason. With the wording of the opinion that came out of the justice commission, all crimes of treason were excluded from the scope of the amnesty.

The request to remove the terrorism exception had been at the centre of the debate for days. The other judge who stood up as the primary opponent of the amnesty and has made every effort to derail it has been García-Castellón. His last ruling was also this Monday, when he dismissed Gonzalo Boye's appeal and extended the investigation of the Democratic Tsunami case for another six months. In addition, last week, 48 hours after Junts, ERC and the PSOE sealed an amendment delimiting the definition of terrorism in the bill by appealing to the European Convention on Human Rights, the judge tried to leave Puigdemont with no way out to exclude him from the amnesty after alleging that the Democratic Tsunami protests violated human rights.

Sumar and Podemos also agree to erase terrorism from bill

Despite the fact that the amendments that were still alive did not prosper, they did reveal the state of the alliances between the different parties over the amendments. The two amendments that had most support were the transactional change by Junts and ERC (which deletes terrorism and maintains the reference to the European Convention on Human Rights) and the transactional amendment by Junts and the PNV (which removes all reference to terrorism, in the Convention European Commission on Human Rights and removes part of the crimes of treason). Sumar, Bildu, the PNV and the BNG supported the two amendments and Podemos joined the amendments originating with Junts and ERC.

Regarding the amendments which Junts presented alone, ERC opposed the insertion into the amnesty bill of the actions derived from "contrived police actions", to modify Article 4 (regarding criminal liability) or to introduce two new additional provisions on questions of unconstitutionality in the Constitutional Court and preliminary questions in the European Court of Justice. However, ERC did support all the other amendments. For its part, Junts abstained from the two ERC amendments that were still alive, on the "minimum threshold of gravity of injuries" in the exclusion, so that the Catalan government can return the fines imposed under the Public Safety Law, the so-called Gag Law.