This Monday, the Spanish Constitutional Court (CC) decided to hear a case brought by the former president of the ANC and Junts per Catalunya MP, Jordi Sànchez, and the president of Òmnium Cultural, Jordi Cuixart, against their detention on remand. The decision by the high court comes almost two and a half months after the appeal was lodged, in Sànchez’s case, on 22 November.
Filing the appeal was the first step needed to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the event that it is unsuccessful. The appeal claims that the defendants’ fundamental rights were violated and there was a lack of procedural guarantees. Jordi Sànchez asked for permission to leave prison in order to participate "on equal terms" in the December election campaign. He was unable to do so due to the flat refusal from Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, who is pressing rebellion charges, and the fact that the CC did not rush to issue a ruling, unlike when the Spanish government lodges a complaint.
Sànchez and Cuixart’s legal counsel are appealing the decision by National Court judge Carmen Lamela to send them to prison without bail on 16 October, citing three reasons. First, that the court was not competent to hear a case of the crime of sedition —the case was subsequently passed to the Supreme Court— in keeping with a 2008 ruling which declared that courts in autonomous communities are competent to hear such cases. Second, that Lamela ordered the two Jordis to be held in custody taking into account arguments that the public prosecutor had not used in their statement, such as them being a flight risk or the possible destruction of evidence. And third, a violation of the right to freedom, since Lamela did not provide the "slightest" justification for why he felt there existed such a flight risk.
The CC’s delay lowers the odds for Sànchez and Cuixart’s defence team, since the conditions are different now that the case is in the hands of the Constitutional Court.
The CC makes it clear, in the two rulings it has issued, that it will consider both cases together. However, at Sànchez's request it will also consider a separate claim to investigate his appeal to issue a temporary injunction to overturn his imprisonment in order for him to be able to participate in the 21-D elections, a decision that has already been delayed. The CC has thus passed on the necessary information to all interested parties so that they can decide within a period of ten days whether they wish to participate in the appeal.