Catalan government maintains accusation against pro-independence protestor

Adrián Sas stands accused of beating a police officer, which he denies. The government says it has proposed postponing the trial to negotiate and the defence claims it's "untrue."

The Generalitat has finally pushed charges against Adrián Sas, the young man from Vilafranca del Penedès accused of public disorder, attacking authority and injuries for his participation in 2018 in the protests after the first anniversary of the 1st October independence referendum. Despite the fact governing parties JxCat and ERC had positioned themselves last week in Parliament in favour of withdrawing the Government's accusation, the executive's legal services have decided to maintain the request for five and a half years in prison against Sas - the public prosecutor is seeking seven - in the trial held today, Tuesday, where the accused has denied having beaten any police officer. According to a press conference held by Meritxell Budó, spokesperson for the Catalan government, the Generalitat's lawyers offered to postpone the trial in order to reach an agreement. Sas's lawyer, Alerta Solidària member David Aranda, assures ARA that this is "completely false".

"The Generalitat has sought a postponement of the trial to find a solution, I have been told, and it has been the defence that has refused", said Budó. Aranda admits that there has been "informal contact" with the Government's lawyer before the trial, but he claims that in no case has he "implied the possibility of a postponement". "He has not made any mention of a postponement, neither in writing nor in the courtroom," he adds. Aranda also recalled how, in any case, a postponement would have to have been souhgt in the preliminary stages. Even so, Sas's lawyer regrets that the department of Home Affairs has not kept its word, after the Minister Miquel Sàmper assured last Wednesday that work was being done to reduce the charges of injury in the numerous cases in which the Generalitat is pushing charges participants in pro-independence demonstrations - about forty right now, according to Alerta Solidària.

Be that as it may, the deputies of the two parties in the Government, Francesc de Dalmases (JxCat) and José Rodríguez (ERC), had directly requested the withdrawal of the accusations in the Sas case and the revision of the "automatisms" in this type of process by the Generalitat -which maintains that it is obliged to defend the Mossos in the case of injuries if they request it-. Budó has alleged this Tuesday that the "mechanisms" for doing so are not so "direct" and has insisted that what has been attempted by the legal services is to reach an agreement with Sas's defence. Aranda not only denies it; he stresses that the withdrawal of the private accusation does not have to be agreed upon. "The Generalitat has the discretionary power to [withdraw an accusation]", he says, adding that in order to reach an eventual agreement it would be necessary for the Public Prosecutor's Office also to be involved.

Willingness to "protect" inspector Jordi Arasa

The Alerta Solidària lawyer intuits that behind the role of the Generalitat's legal services is the desire to "protect" Jordi Arasa, former head of the riot police at the Regional Operational Resources Area (ARRO) in Barcelona and one of the two police officers who claim that Sas hit them. "I don't know what power this man has, but it seems that they always end up protecting him," he says, recalling that inspector Arasa was sentenced in June to more than two years in prison for beating prostestors with a truncheon during the Indingados protests in 2011 - a sentence for which he was redeployed. In any case, all the agents who have testified as witnesses in the trial have coincided in pointing out Sas as the author of several blows during the first anniversary of the 1st of October, according to the ACN. According to them, he was identified because on the day of the events he was wearing a handkerchief from a Vilafranca casteller club and a stick from the Baile de Pastorcillos, with which they have claimed he attacked them. One of the officers claims that Sas's blows slashed his chin.

While Sas has very briefly contradicted this version and has only answered questions from his defence, his lawyer has regretted that the "cornerstone" of the whole case is the videos analysed after the riots, which show "absolutely nothing" that would allow Sas to be singled out as the author of the attacks. "Videos whose origins are unknown," he added. As he insisted in a conversation with ARA, in court Aranda also questioned the Mossos' investigation, which was "at the very least irregular": he pointed out that the agents identified Sas in Vilafranca on 17 November 2018, while the police minutes on the collection of images were signed two days later. He claims, however, that the requests from the Prosecutor's Office and the Government are "grotesque" and "totally disproportionate" and concludes that, in his opinion, there can only be an acquittal.

The CUP seeks Sàmper's resignation

In a press conference from the Parliament, the CUP has asked for "explanations" from the Government and the "immediate" resignation of Sàmper for "not complying with his word" and having kept all the accusations against Sas. MP Natàlia Sànchez interprets the accusations as a "repressive operation against the independence movement". "It is totally unjustifiable on the part of the Department of Home Affairs", she complained and regretted that the Generalitat was behind accusations that could lead to an pro-independence protestor being imprisoned. Alerta Solidària points out that the Generalitat encouraged the population to demonstrate on the first anniversary of the October referendum and, in a communiqué, they ask for a "public apology from the Government towards the pro-independence protestors at risk of imprisonment and the withdrawal of the almost fifty accusations of imprisonment that it currently has made against the supporters".

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