In all likelihood, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart will spend several months on remand. If all goes according to plan for the Spanish government, they will remain in prison while article 155 of the Constitution is put into action, with the partial suspension of Catalonia’s self-rule. By the end of this week, the legal counsel of the ANC and Òmnium Cultural leaders, who last Monday were received in a room at the entrance to Soto del Real bedecked with Spanish flags, will lodge an appeal against Judge Carmen Lamela’s decision to hold them in prison without bail. The appeal will be heard before the Fourth Chamber of the National Court, consisting of judges Ángela Murillo, Carmen Paloma González and Juan Francisco Martel. Such appeals usually have very little chance of success, however.
One of the best-known cases that Judge Lamela has presided over is one involving acts of aggression against two off-duty Guardia Civil officers —and their partners— in a bar in Altsasu (Navarre) on 15 October, 2016, in which the judge sought to bring charges of terrorism. The Fourth Chamber agreed with her and ruled Judge Lamela was competent to hear the case before the National Court. The Altsasu case is pertinent since Jordi Pina and Marina Roig, Sànchez and Cuixart’s lawyers, question both the classification of their supposed crime as sedition and whether it falls within the National Court’s purview. When crimes are liable to a sentence exceeding three years, remand can last two years, extendable to a further two years. Will the court case drag on for years, as typically happens in the Spanish judicial system?
More evidence against Trapero
The original charge brought by the National Court’s Public Prosecutor relates to the events that took place outside Catalonia’s Ministry of the Economy on the 20 and 21 of September. However, more charges are due to be added in the coming days, with the Guardia Civil looking for new evidence. Nevertheless, yesterday Spanish police were unsuccessful in their attempts to obtain recordings of the Mossos d'Esquadra discussing allegedly contradictory orders, when it conducted a search of the headquarters of the Catalan Emergencies Services —the building that houses the 112 emergency number response team— in Reus. By widening the net, the prosecutor hopes to achieve what eluded them on Monday: prison without bail for Major Josep Lluís Trapero [the head of Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra]. In Monday’s report on Trapero, Judge Lamela quoted Guardia Civil statements naming him as a key figure in the referendum. She went on to order them to conduct an investigation into the events of 1 October.
Consequently, the duration of the probe will depend on the prosecutor's proposal. If it is limited to the events of 20 September and 1 October, the case could technically go to trial within a year. However, to a large extent, the final outcome will depend on the political situation at the time.
Maza’s objective: Puigdemont
There is another factor to take into account: Spain’s Attorney General, José Manuel Maza, is waiting for Article 155 to be triggered before bringing a charge of sedition or rebellion against Carles Puigdemont —before the National Court or the Supreme Court— assuming that he can first be stripped of his immunity from prosecution. However, the public prosecutors belonging to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Chamber advised Maza against going down this path precisely because Puigdemont allegedly committed the crime during his term in office as the president of the Catalan government. Maza plans to go after the ultimate prize by sending Puigdemont to jail.