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The Supreme Court deliberates to decide what type of crime was the 1-O and the declaration of independence

Carlota Guindal, Madrid

06/23/2019 00:37 Updated 6/23/2019 10:15 AM

The Supreme Court Chamber who has known about the trial considered the most relevant in the last century has several weeks ahead for deliberations to decide what the independence process was: a rebellion, a sedition or a disobedience? There are several options that are being handled, among them the conspiracy or the attempt for rebellion.

However, the sentence that will come out of the considerations of the seven magistrates who have composed the tribunal will not be a big brush matter but rather tuned to the last detail.

The proven facts, that is, what happened in Catalonia during the hot autumn of 2017, which ended with a unilateral declaration of independence on October 27, are crystal clear to the court. However, the dilemma here is deciding how exactly it translates into the Penal Code.

That what happened orchestrated by the main independence leaders was disobedience is something practically ruled out. Proof of this is that once the trial is over and all the evidence is already on the table, the magistrates have again refused to release the nine accused who are on remand. This is a clear sign that the court has more than enough material to determine that the accused imprisoned since November 2017 will not be acquitted or sentenced to minimum sentences.

The Galaxy operation was a conspiracy for the rebellion, with penalties less than a year

Therefore, the Chamber is handling the crime of sedition or rebellion. Supreme Court sources explain to La Vanguardia that within the rebellion there are three options to study: an accomplished rebellion, a conspiracy or an attempt, and not all have the same penalty.

To be responsible for a crime of consummated rebellion one must have risen violently and publicly to achieve a series of objectives, including repealing, suspending or modifying the Constitution in whole or in part, as well as declaring the independence of a part of the national territory.

The Prosecutor’s Office considers that the former vice-president of the Generalitat and eight other members of the Government promoted a rebellion and for that reason it is seeking sentences of up to 25 years in prison. Its maximum person in charge would be the ex-president of the Generalitat Carles Puigdemont but as he escaped from the Spanish justice he is not among the defendants.

However, the court has two other options on the table, as contemplated in the Criminal Code, that of the conspiracy and that of the attempted rebellion. According to these sources, these are imperfect executions or preparatory plans. That is, these two alternatives occur when the rebellion has not come to be executed. In the case of the conspiracy, there has been a preparatory act but its execution has not begun. This is what happened in what is known as Operation Galaxy, for which Lieutenant Colonel Tejero and Captain Sáenz de Ynestrillas were convicted of a crime of proposition and conspiracy for the rebellion.

Sedition and embezzlement, with penalties superior to the attempted rebellion

It was a coup plot that took place in 1978, or as the defendants said “a coffee chat”. A group of soldiers met in a Madrid coffee shop and planned a coup against the government of Adolfo Suárez. That meeting was aborted and the authors were condemned, so it was not executed. For that, they were sentenced to between 6 and 7 months in prison. Three years later Lieutenant Colonel Tejero perfected it by entering the Congress in the coup of 23-F.

The penalties for the conspiracy could be reduced by two degrees, which means that the sentence could fall even to between 4 and 7 and a half years in prison.

The other option is the attempt for rebellion. These same sources explain that, in this case, the rebel plan is resolved and begins to be executed, although it is not concluded. This option would reduce the sentence by one degree, which means that the range would go from 7 1/2 years to 15 years in prison.

The court could assess this option if it took into account as the beginning of the rebel plan the approval of the disconnection laws approved by the Parliament between September 6 and 7, 2017, as well as the referendum held on October 1 despite the suspension of the Constitutional Court and the prohibition of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia, in addition to the unilateral declaration of independence. Even if such independence was not implemented, the plans to achieve it began and ended with the application of article 155 of the Constitution by the central government. When the autonomy of Catalonia was removed, the rebel plan was terminated, according to this possible thesis.

Rebellion is the option, a priori, less favorable for prisoners. However, legal sources warn that it would be a more favorable option when taking into account the crime of embezzlement of public funds. Any alternative within the rebellion has contemplated the use of public money, both in the conspiracy and in the attempt. The same does not happen with sedition, therefore, to this should be added the crime of embezzlement, which if aggravated by having used more than 250,000 euros, the penalty may be higher than the rebellion.


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