Published with the kind permission of The Bullet, Socialist Project Canada
By Richard Fidler
The Spanish state’s repression is now a major issue in Germany, where former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was arrested March 25, pursuant to a Spanish judge’s warrant while travelling by car from northern Europe to Belgium, where he was living in exile. His arrest provoked immediate mass protests in Catalonia.
German prosecutors are seeking to extradite Puigdemont to Spain where, along with other jailed and exiled Catalan nationalist leaders, he faces charges of “rebellion,” which carries a sentence of 30 years imprisonment.
The Spanish court has issued similar arrest warrants against other Catalan leaders now in exile in Belgium, Scotland and Switzerland. Writing in the Catalan daily Ara April 3, legal expert Javier Pérez Royo noted that each of the extradition judges, irrespective of their country, “knows that the individual cases that they are expected to decide on are all linked by a common thread. And all of them realise that this affair has taken centre stage as far as Europe’s public opinion is concerned, as a browse through the papers will easily confirm.”
There is “a shared link” in all of these cases, Pérez Royo added: “what constitutes a crime of rebellion in a democratic European country well into the 21st century?”
In a manifesto concerning the Catalan prosecutions published in November in the Spanish on-line newspaper El Diario, more than 100 professors of criminal law from throughout Spain state that “it’s seriously mistaken to consider the facts as constituting a crime of rebellion [as defined by] article 474 of the Penal Code” because… the “structural element of this crime, which is violence, is absent.”