The Catalan trial is about to enter its sixth week, with the witnesses summoned currently having their turn to speak. The trial began with the testimonies of the accused Catalan independence leaders, among them political activist Jordi Cuixart. Cuixart is the president of the grassroots pro-independence civic organization Òmnium Cultural and is being tried for his role in the Catalan independence process.
The political activist described the referendum as an “exercise of civil disobedience, which is not punishable with 500 days of pre-trial jail or a 17-year prison sentence.” In his testimony, he said that “the right to vote in Catalonia is achieved by voting.” Cuixart stated: “We want more democracy, for citizens to be heard, not only for Catalonia, but for Spain too.”
The Catalan News Agency had the opportunity to speak with the lawyer of Jordi Cuixart, Olivier Peter, this week in Geneva.
– What sort of outcome do you foresee of this trial?
– The question is not whether he is going to be sentenced. The trial is already a sentence. He is already paying a completely unacceptable price given what he is being accused of. A sentence would be a mere confirmation of this absurdity. A prison sentence would not surprise us. We have been expecting this decision, and we would be surprised by an acquittal.
– Are you expecting your client to receive a prison sentence?
– We don’t see a prison sentence as a given. We know that a guilty verdict is already written and already decided, but there are still three to five months to shift the balance to force the Spanish state to change its practices and respect fundamental rights.
– What plans do you have for after the conclusion of the trial?
– If Jordi Cuixart is found guilty, as we unfortunately expect, there will first of all be an appeal in front of the Spanish Constitutional Court, and then we will certainly go to the European Court of Human Rights, who would condemn Spain. A condemnation of Jordi Cuixart tomorrow would be a condemnation of Spain the day after tomorrow.
– Do you think Europe can solve this conflict?
– Generally speaking, it is a mistake to expect this situation to be resolved by Europe, by the UN or by Strasbourg. It is a political issue with popular mobilizations. It is not going to be resolved by something happening hundreds of kilometers away. The solution will come from Catalonia, from the Spanish state and probably from the capacity of the movement to create a climate favorable for freeing the prisoners.
– How do you feel Europe views the political tensions in Catalonia?
– There is a difference between what Europe says and what Europe thinks. Europe is conscious that October 1 was carnage on the part of the Spanish police. Europe is conscious that Spain has a big problem with fundamental rights when it comes to managing the Catalan crisis. There are diplomatic reasons which justify this silence but there is general indignation which will come out at one moment or another.