Long-term resident


I confess that I found last-month’s world-circulated photograph of half an elected Catalan government, two civic leaders and the Speaker of the Catalan parliament lined up in Spain’s Supreme Court – like the ’Trotskyite-Zinovievite saboteurs’ at the first Moscow show trial – both bizarre and shameful. But instead of griping, grousing, bleating or even bellyaching about these judicial proceedings, now in their second month, it might be more pertinent to ask a few questions about them that the foreign media have so far proved unable or unwilling to ask. So here goes: Why are the two civic leaders (Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sànchez) whose supposed crimes took place on a different day from those of the other accused (September 20) and in different circumstances (a spontaneous demonstration against a Civil Guard raid on a Catalan government building), not being tried in the local Catalan High Court of Justice, as Spanish law demands? Why, on this occasion, when the foreign media mentions the two Civil Guard patrol cars that demonstrators ’trashed’ (by covering them with stickers and breaking a couple of windows), do they not add that one of these cars was left unlocked, with loaded automatic weapons lying inside it? Why were the civic leaders refused parole with precautionary measures (electronic bracelets, confiscation of passports) as demanded by HRW, Amnesty and the United Nations? Why, for that matter, is former parliament Speaker Carme Forcadell on trial at all when – as the Speaker of London’s House of Commons, John Bercow, recently pointed out – all she did was allow a debate in a debating chamber? Who gave the order and why, for Spanish police to use systematic violence against voters on the Referendum Day (Oct 1, 2017) knowing full well that this could not stop the referendum altogether? Why did the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs create a diplomatic propaganda department (’España Global’) with its own Twitter campaign (#ThisIsTheRealSpain) just a couple of days before the trial started, and why is it headed by a state secretary so verbally incompetent she refers to the accused as ’convicts’ and compares the Catalan referendum to ’rape’? On the first day of the trial, how come the accused’s’ family members were at first refused entrance to the courtroom and had to wait for hours surrounded by militants from the far-right party Vox, before finally being admitted? Why were the members of International Trial Watch banned from attending the trial and only admitted as casual observers because there happened to be a few vacant seats available? Why are 10 out of the 12 judges on the Constitutional Tribunal (which suspended the Catalan referendum before it took place) appointed by politicians? Why are all the Supreme Court judges appointed by something called the General Council of the Judiciary, whose members are, in turn, appointed by politicians? Why have the Council of Europe’s warnings to Spain about this implicit lack of judicial impartiality been repeatedly ignored? Why is one of the chief prosecutors at the Supreme Court, Fidel Cadena, so ill-prepared that he constantly confuses the names of the accused and has asked some of them about their apparently suspicious movements at a time when they were already behind bars? Why has a Scotland Yard expert with vital testimony about recorded material involving the two civic leaders, been refused permission to take the stand? And last but by no means least, why has the European Commission been doing its so-far-successful utmost to pretend that none of these highly questionable state-sponsored shenanigans are happening in its own backyard?

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