European Democratic Lawyers Association calls for immediate release of political prisoners

International observers will travel to Madrid during the trial

In a statement on Monday, the European Democratic Lawyers Association (EDL) called for the "immediate" release of Catalonia’s pro-independence leaders and announced its decision to send members from various European countries to Madrid as international observers during the 1-O referendum trial.

After a meeting in Madrid on the 9th, the EDL expressed its "concern" over the "lack of procedural guarantees during the trial." It stated that the defense did not have enough time to prepare as it should, and complained that it was denied access to all the information about the the trial. In addition, the EDL criticized the fact that witnesses proposed by the lawyers have been rejected by the court. According to the EDL, the fact that nine of the indicted pro-independence leaders are being held without bail "hinders their ability to prepare for the trial" and, for that reason, it demanded the "immediate" release of the prisoners, which it believes are in jail "for political reasons".

According to the EDL, the fact that members of the Supreme Court are chosen by the General Council of the Judiciary, which in turn is chosen by the Spanish Congress, "can seriously affect the judicial and political independence of the various magistrates." It compared this situation, where judicial independence is in question, with Turkey’s, a country which has violated article 18 of the Convention and the right to vote and to hold public office with the preventive detention of Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas. That is why the association noted that "this is not a Spanish issue, but a European one, which could have serious effects on the rule of law."

The lawyers explained that the conditions in which the pro-independence leaders will find themselves during the trial may have “a negative impact on the ability of each of them to defend themselves", and considers it "vitally important" to have international observers throughout the trial who are “well-informed and respectful” of the Spanish judicial system. That is why some of its members will travel to Madrid in the coming months to attend the court sessions, interact with others as international observers, and study in depth the legal aspects of the Catalan referendum case, "from a human rights perspective".

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