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Llarena refuses Sànchez permission to attend the plenary, admits it is to stop him being elected

Spain’s Supreme Court judge disregards the recommendation by the UN Human Rights Committee

The United Nations Human Rights Committee’s recommendation that Spain safeguards Jordi Sànchez’s political rights was not sufficient to change the ruling of the Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena. Once again, Llarena has refused Junts per Catalunya’s candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat, Jordi Sànchez –detained in Soto del Real prison since 16 October– permission to attend the investiture convened by the President of Parliament, Roger Torrent, tomorrow, in the Catalan Parliament. He has also been denied permission to participate via a video link. The judge does not repeat his claim that Sànchez poses a potential flight risk, instead insisting that there is a risk of him reoffending since, if he were President of the Generalitat, his mandate "could be oriented towards breaking the constitutional order”.

In other words, Llarena argues that Sànchez mustn’t be allowed to attend the investiture specifically to avoid the possibility of him being voted president, with the increased risk of reoffending that this might entail. The judge continues to develop his theory that the "attack on the constitutional order" is "currently underway" and has not been stopped by the legal proceedings, the triggering of Article 155 or with the December elections. Llarena quoted whole chunks of the 'White Paper on the National Transition of Catalonia' which alludes to the limits of Spain’s ability to restrict Catalonia’s right to decide and mentions the eventual intervention of foreign mediators or European agents. Thus, Llarena tries to show that the strategy of internationalisation being pursued by some of the political leaders under investigation supports his argument that the process has not ended.

The judge mentions other indications that Sànchez might reoffend, such as the "existence of a political context in which certain sectors still persist in explicitly declaring that the independence of Catalonia must be achieved immediately" and "that these sectors are part of a plan for secession that seeks to illegally impose a constituent term”. Regarding Sànchez's commitment to work within the constitutional framework, the judge considers that "it cannot be ruled out that Mr. Sánchez has redirected his criminal objective by integrating himself into a candidature that proclaims it will carry out the exact same plan of action for which he currently stands trial".

Referring to the UN resolution, Justice Llarena argues that it is not legally binding for the Spanish justice and he reproaches Sànchez’s defence for failing to translate the text into Spanish, as it was originally issued in English.

In a written request this Tuesday, Sànchez's lawyer, Jordi Pina, asked either for the presidential candidate to be released, that he be granted leave to attend the plenary session in person or for him to be allowed to participate via a video link. The latter proposal was not included in Pina’s earlier petition, which was filed so that Sànchez could attend the first plenary –which was also denied– on 12 March. At the time Llarena rejected the request due to a "risk of reoffending".

In the new petition, Sànchez’s defence team reminded Llarena of the UN Human Rights Committee’s resolution of 23 March, which urged the Spanish government to take precautionary measures to guarantee the MP’s political rights. After officially calling for a plenary session on Friday at 10 am, the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, also sent a letter to Llarena on Monday in which he reminded the judge that Sànchez’s political rights remain intact.

Parliament prepares a symbolic act for tomorrow

Llarena's decision means that Torrent must decide what to do during tomorrow’s plenary session. As stated in yesterday’s ARA, Parliament is preparing a symbolic act, and not an investiture debate, like the one which took place with the investiture of Jordi Turull when the Supreme Court judge refused permission for it to take place.

Both Junts per Catalunya and ERC were already convinced that Llarena wouldn’t let Sànchez attend and they now have to decide whether to activate plan D or first wait and observe the reactions to the Sànchez issue at the international level and if it is possible to reform the presidency law in order for Puigdemont to once again stand as a candidate [and be elected by proxy]. In an interview with Spain’s Cadena SER radio station this Thursday, Torrent called on international organisations to intervene if Llarena refused to allow Sanchez to attend the plenary session.

Jordi Sànchez will, therefore, remain in Soto del Real. In fact, three days ago Llarena called for the Junts per Catalunya MP to attend the Supreme Court next Monday, to inform him of the exact nature of the charges which he faces in what is technically known as the investigative statements. All 25 individuals who have been charged with rebellion by the Supreme Court have been summonsed between April 16 and 18. Despite being a mere formality, legal sources point out that all those who stand accused could once again have the chance to make a statement in court.

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