MEP Barbara Spinelli

The Greens/EFA have called for a “fair and independent trial” as it starts today in Madrid. The EU group president Ska Keller believes that “the unfounded accusations of rebellion and sedition” against the 12 independence leaders “will be proven false.” Two of the defendants, Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva, were former members of the Greens/EFA group at the European Parliament.

“This trial is a huge political failure,” said Keller. Greens/EFA also reiterated its call for “the end of the provisional imprisonment of the politicians and leaders during the months of the trial.” Furthermore, Keller expressed the group’s support for “the efforts of both the Catalan and the Spanish government to try to establish a sincere and open dialogue to find a political solution for Catalonia.” “A political solution remains the only possible solution for the conflict,” she claimed.

No violence

Meanwhile, ECR’s Flemish MEP, Mark Demesmaeker, who was in Madrid to witness the start of the trial, questioned the charges leveled against the officials. “I saw the referendum, I was there, and saw no violence from the Jordis [prosecuted activists] or the political leaders, or even the people who voted,” he said, adding: “I did see extreme violence from the National Police.”

Demesmaeker also commented on how the trial might be seen outside Spain. “To call the people who organized the referendum, who did so because they were elected to do so, to call them criminals, violent rebels, and threaten them with up to 25 years in prison, is something people in Europe don’t understand,” he said.

Close watch

The EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform in the European Parliament announced on Monday that it will be “following closely” the trial against 12 Catalan leaders in the Spanish Supreme Court. In a press conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the group spokesman, Ivo Vajgl, said that they will travel to Madrid to “personally” see the proceedings.

“We reject the false narrative behind the accusations, and denounce that this is a political trial” Vajgl insisted. Italian MEP Eleonora Forenza, explained that they have requested to be “observers” and described the trial as an “European issue”. “We are seeing a political trial in 2019 Europe,” she said.

Another member of the platform, French MEP José Bové, added that “the process is not fair, and should not be happening.” “Dialogue is needed, and also a change of the Spanish Constitution,” he said. The daughter of one of the fathers of the European project, Barbara Spinelli, described as “outrageous” to have “political prisoners in the EU”.

Shameful silence

“If this was happening in South America or the Middle East, with elected representatives in a show trial for simply allowing citizens the opportunity to decide their future, the condemnation of EU leaders would be deafening” said Irish MEP Matt Carthy. According to him, the current “silence” of the European institutions “is shameful”.

“The EU needs to help Madrid to come out of this stupid corner in which they painted themselves,” said Estonian MP Indrek Tarand. Portuguese MEP Antonio Marinho e Pinto strongly criticized the Spanish justice, saying it’s “dominated by fascist ideology.”