The closing arguments from the defense in the referendum trial have gotten off to a blistering start at Spain’s Supreme Court after the lawyer for Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva accused the public prosecutor of “biased, exaggerated, and strident rhetoric.” Andreu Van den Eynde, representing both the former vice-president and foreign minister, broke his closing arguments down into key events, such as the protests against police raids in September 2017 ahead of the vote, the referendum day itself, and the unilateral declaration of independence.

The defense lawyer also divided his closing arguments by accusation: rebellion, sedition, and misuse of funds.  He said on Tuesday that the nature of the accusations in the final report by the prosecution “undermines their credibility” since, in his view, it included “the occasional lie” as well as a “lack of clarity” over the alleged role of violence in the independence drive. Van den Eynde explained to the court that the number of incidents of violence could be “counted on one hand – only three,” and argued that these incidents were all “reactive” to the police operation aiming to stop the referendum.

The Catalan lawyer’s final statement before the court focused on the vocabulary employed by the prosecutor, which he claimed revealed a detachment from the facts about the unrest around the referendum. “Instead of talking about two vehicles, they talk about the apocalypse. They don’t like reality; they’re afraid of it,” van den Eynde argued. The legal definition in the Spanish penal code states that violence is a necessary element of rebellion, of which the defendants are accused.

Internationalization of the independence push

“I still don’t know when this uprising is taking place,” Van den Eynde said in court. “The people did not go out to topple the state, they went to vote and protest. The defendants refuse violence, no message where they promote it has been found. However, they have found many messages where the accused defend the opposite – peace.”

Andreu Van den Eynde’s client Raül Romeva was the minister of foreign affairs during 2017, and as such he devoted some time to speak about the internationalization of the independence push at the time. The Catalan lawyer pointed to freedom of expression regarding the appearances of politicians and conferences on the topic of Catalan independence. “It’s about knowing if a politician has the right to speak about self-determination. Freedom of expression also protects the opinions that hurt.”

“The dissemination of ideas is criminalized only when we explain it to colleagues and the public outside of Spain. The fear of the internationalization of territorial debate in the 21st century cannot be understood”. Regarding the unilateral declaration of independence on October 27, 2017, the lawyer said “we all agree on the political relevance” of declaration, but he wanted to make the point that the declaration was only symbolic, and that “the only side arguing the factual and judicial relevance of it is the prosecution.”