MARCOS LAMELAS. BEATRIZ PARERA – Barcelona – 30/08/2020
Oriol Junqueras in a meeting with mayors and deputies in Santa Coloma. (EFE)
The pardons to the twelve convicted by the ‘procés’ are dividing, even more so, the ranks of independence in Catalonia. UGT has asked for Dolors Bassa and three former Presidents of The Parliament have requested it for Carme Forcadell. In both cases with the collusion of those involved, although they do not demand it directly. But since the two are close to ERC, sectors of JxCAT have already begun to accuse them of treason, of accepting the Spanish legal framework and of breaking the unity of prisoners.
Certainly, the Generalitat is not for pardons. Quim Torra himself has conditioned a new session of the Bureau of Dialogue on the fact that both the right of self-determination and the amnesty for prisoners are issues to be addressed. This means slamming the prospect of a pardon, which prisoners close to JxCAT, but also Oriol Junqueras, Raùl Romeva or, above all, Jordi Cuixart – “ho tornarem a fer” – reject outright.
The controversy, deaf, of the political respect generated by prisoners occurs in the long pre-election period that has opened in Catalonia and that has generated a pulse between ERC and JxCAT to be first in the polls. But pardoning is a grace granted by the government and regulated. In essence, the criminal liability is eliminated but the attribution of the crime is not withdrawn. Although prison sentences would disappear, it is more questionable whether it would also eliminate disqualification. For this to be the case, it must be total and for “reasons of justice, fairness or public utility, in the judgment of the sentencing Court”. In that case, therefore, the Supreme should support it, which was unlikely. For partial pardon, its judgment is also required but is not binding.
However, the pardons that are most advanced in processing are not those that have generated the controversy but the one requested at their own risk by the criminalist Francesc Jufresa, for the twelve prisoners, as confirmed by the Ministry of Justice. Jufresa justifies it as a citizen’s personal initiative: “I think it is a valid instrument for resolving a conflict in my country. And when pro-independentists calls for amnesty, they know that an amnesty cannot be asked because it is contrary to the Constitution. Asking for amnesty is like asking to repeal the Magna Carta.”
The most advanced pardons are not those that have generated the controversy but the one requested at his own risk by the criminalist Francesc Jufresa
“This is my personal initiative, I have not spoken to any of those affected. It is an issue which I believe can serve to give a way out of a serious political conflict such as the ‘procés’, which I have severely divided catalan society,” adds Jufresa, who declares himself non-independentist but as a connoisseur of the law he considers that to be a natural way out that can serve to reduce the political pressure that Catalonia endures. “Informally it comes to me that my request has already been fully processed and is at the table of the Council of Ministers,” says this criminal who recalls that “the pardon does not need any complicity from those affected. I had also heard from many of the imprisoned politicians that they were never going to ask for it and that’s why I thought it was helpful for me to do it since the effect of pardon is the same. Jordi Cuixart can keep saying that he would reject it, they’d put him on the street anyway. In Spain, voluntary prison does not exist.”
Despite what the inmates pay lip service, the unity of this collective on the issue is more diffuse than it might seem. It is clear that Bassa and Forcadell will welcome it as soon as they can. But others, such as Raúl Romeva, have opened the door, ensuring that he understood Bassa and Forcadell. A third group, have played half-measures, such as Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Quim Forn. All three have assured that they would not seek a pardon but would accept it if requested by a third party. Finally, the most belligerent against the measure are Jordi Sánchez, Jordi Cuixart and Oriol Junqueras. The latter said in an interview with Naciodigital: “the pardon can be put where it fits.”
None of the prisioners have asked for a pardon directly, those seeking that exit try to get that requested by a third party sparing them the bitter cup.
That’s why the situation is confusing also in JxCAT. In April 2019, the party called for a pardon. In September of the same year he went on to demand amnesty, imitating what ERC proposed in its program. So it might seem like Jufresa’s is an unusual, eccentric thing. But the Executive Committee of the Democratic Lliga, the new party chaired by Astrid Barrio promoted by non-independentist Catalan sectors announced this week that it will ask for the pardon of all the convicted. In its note they state “the unequivocal desire to contribute to reconciliation between Catalans and not to pay for any kind of confrontation between Catalans or between the governments of Catalonia and Spain, convinced that it is necessary to concentrate their efforts on overcoming the health, economic and social crisis that covid-19 is causing”. Therefore, in the end in Catalonia those who would want the pardon would be the non-independentists while those who reject them are the irrededent sovereignists who prefer to live in the conflict than recognize that in October and 2017 they lost.
Remedying an Injustice
For Jufresa, moreover, the pardon comes to solve an injustice, “since those who are in prison have been brought to justice, they submitted to the courts and now they have on them a very important sentence. On the other hand, the Mr. who proclaimed independence is so calmly at home in Brussels. And this makes the situation more absurd.”
Pardons are a contentious issue. Even for constitutionalism. In the last Catalan elections, those in December 2017, the PSC began to fall into the polls when in the middle of the campaign, Miquel Iceta referred to pardons in the middle of the campaign, precisely to demarcate himself from amnesty as a political way out.