The imprisonments of the 14 far-right assailants of Catalonia’s cultural center in Madrid has been halted again. A Madrid provincial court froze the execution of the order of imprisonments some hours before it expired on Thursday midnight. The convicted attackers for the 2013 Catalan National Day events in Blanquerna center are pending an appeal before Spain’s Constitutional Court.

Judicial sources explained that executing the sentences “is proving very difficult” because the individuals have always filed appeals whenever they were required to voluntarily enter jail to serve their time behind bars. Two of the 14 far-right supporters are waiting on the Supreme Court to have their say on petitions of pardoning, while two others are missing and face an arrest warrant. One of the convicted is Manuel Andrino, the frontrunner of Falange Española de las JONS – dictator Francisco Franco’s party, which is legal – in the Madrid region election.

In July 2020, the Supreme Court reduced the convictions for all 14 from around four years to between two years and seven months, and two years and nine months, after the Constitutional Court overturned the previous sentence in January. In raising the original sentences given to the men by a provincial Madrid court of between six and eight months ruled in 2016, the Supreme Court cited in its 2017 review “intolerance towards the Catalanist ideology of those attending the event” as an aggravating factor in their offenses, increasing the convictions to around four years.

Fascist symbols

The Constitutional Court overturned it in early 2020 applying the so-called Atutxa Doctrine, which in European law prevents an appeals court (in this case the Supreme Court) from changing a sentence on subjective grounds without allowing the defendants to testify. Seven years after the incidents, none of the 14 assailants have gone to jail at any moment of the procedure yet.

The attack on the Blanquerna Cultural Center in Madrid took place during a celebration of Catalonia’s national day on 11 September 2013. The men carrying far-right and Francoist symbols stormed the center when the Catalan government delegate, Josep Maria Bosch Bessa, was about to speak. He was physically assaulted, as well as the then MP in Spain’s Congress, Josep Sánchez Llibre. They destroyed the stage, threw the Catalan flag to the ground and threw tear gas canisters before leaving a few minutes later.

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