Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, leaders of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium, the main mobilizing entities for independence, were sent to prison on Monday for a crime of sedition.
The judge accuses them of having directed and encouraged the masses on September 20 and 21 to try to prevent – although they did not succeed – Operation Anubis against the holding of the independence referendum on October 1. The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, several groups from the Barcelona City Council, and the newspaper Ara, among others, have criticized the arrest of Sànchez and Cuixart, whom they consider “political prisoners”. “They have not been sent to prison for stealing but for organizing a peaceful protest,” Iglesias said.
Are Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart political prisoners?
There is no universally accepted definition for “political prisoner,” although he could be described as a person arrested for his political activities, especially if they are critical or show opposition to a government.
In October 2012, for the first time an international body, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), approved a series of criteria to define what a political prisoner is. According to PACE, someone is a political prisoner if he or she meets one of these criteria: detention violates any of the guarantees contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (especially freedom of thought, religion, freedom of expression and information and freedom of association), detention is imposed purely for political reasons, the time or conditions of the sentence are not proportional to the crime committed, the detention is discriminatory with respect to other people or if it is the result of a judicial process that is clearly unfair and politically motivated. These criteria are not met in the detention of Sànchez and Cuixart
According to the order for his transfer to prison, both are the “main promoters and directors of the protests of September 20 and 21”. On September 20, more than 40,000 people summoned by ANC and Òmniun gathered before the Generalitat’s Ministry of Economy to protest against the arrest of 11 senior officials, arrested for their participation in the organization of the illegal referendum on October 1.
Judge Carmen Lamela argues that “through these calls a call was made, not for a peaceful rally or demonstration, but for the” protection “of their rulers and institutions, through mass citizen mobilizations, in front of the places where they were carrying out police actions ”. Proof of this, according to the car, is that “in some calls it was even expressed that the concentrations that existed were ‘to heighten the Civil Guard’ (to stop the Civil Guard), as expressed, for example, by the WhatsApp message of Òmnium dated September 20, sent about 8.50 am ”.
The protest was not peaceful. As a consequence of the concentrations of September 20, the secretary of the Investigating Court 13 of Barcelona had to leave the Ministry of Economy of the Generalitat through a rooftop, while the most exalted destroyed three SUVs of the Civil Guard, causing encrypted damages in 135,600 euros.
The judge places Sànchez and Cuixart as the promoters of the protest that tried to hinder the work of the Civil Guard: “During the course of the day, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart emerged as interlocutors of the concentration, affirming that they could move the members of the concentration for their purposes, trying to negotiate at least five times with the security forces, (…) but never accepting those options that citizen security specialists proposed to avoid or reduce risks ”.
So are Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart political prisoners? No. Their actions, according to the court order, are in accordance with the crime of sedition, regulated in article 544 and following of the Penal Code and punishable by penalties of up to 15 years in prison for those who “rise up publicly and in a tumultuous manner” for ” impede, by force or outside the legal channels, the application of the laws “, or to” impede any authority, official corporation or public official, the legitimate exercise of their functions or compliance with their agreements, or resolutions administrative or judicial ”. They have not been imprisoned for their ideas, but for a crime described in the Penal Code of an advanced democracy such as Spain.