Esquerra’s J.M. Jové presents his statement of defence before Spain’s Supreme Court and maintains the democratic legitimacy of calling a referendum

The Esquerra Republicana leader denounces the general cause against independence, the illegal investigation of specific persons, and the lack of judicial control over police action against the 1st October 2017 referendum

The president of Esquerra’s National Council and chair of the parliamentary group, Josep Maria Jové, presented on Tuesday the defence brief for the referendum trial that is to be held at the Spanish Supreme Court. “The referendum is to be tried, a trial of the democratic will of a very large majority of Catalan society,” defended Mr Jové.

In the statement, the Esquerra leader espouses the democratic legitimacy of calling a referendum, endorsed both by a parliamentary majority and by election manifestos that had until then gone unchallenged. “The calling and holding of a referendum such as that being tried can never be criminally penalised, nor can its democratic legitimacy be questioned,” holds the brief.

Mr Jové also calls for the materialisation of political alternatives for the resolution of the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain: “Faced with a conflict of a political nature, there can only be political solutions; opting for judicial reaction will not solve anything.” In this regard, the Esquerra leader traces a brief historical thread of the rise of the independence movement, pointing to the sentence against the 2010 Statute as the “turning point” and mentioning several initiatives advanced by Catalonia to find solutions “of understanding, dialogue and negotiation,” always based on the recognition of Catalonia’s sovereignty and respect for the right to self-determination.

The Spanish state’s response, “quashing” the various initiatives proposed by Catalonia, culminates on the 1st October 2017 referendum which results in political and judicial persecution of the pro-independence movement. “The present proceedings are part of a political and judicial strategy (…) that aims to stigmatize, persecute, and ultimately end a political project, that of independence, which is legitimate, democratic and non-violent,” the document states. This judicialisation does not only entail criminal prosecution but also includes “challenging any decision of the Parliament of Catalonia before the Constitutional Court.”

The general cause: being pro-independence is a sign of criminality

Mr Jové thus denounces that a general cause has been judicially articulated against independence and around the 1st October 2017 referendum, which is why the defence brief details the police operation that was deployed without judicial control in order to deploy a fishing expedition and build a case “based on no specific act or in regard to any specific person, based on the criminalization of ideology and of legal and legitimate political projects.” In this vein, the Esquerra leader warns of the alteration of Spanish jurisprudence in order to justify pro-independence as a “sign of criminality.”

Therefore, the general cause initiated did not only entail the police’s fishing expeditions and judicial proceedings but also included procedures that were quite simply illegal,” adds Mr Jové in the defence brief when recalling the Pegasus spyware surveillance of which he was a direct victim. That is why he also warns that in these procedures “there may have been fabrication of false evidence in order to incriminate” Mr Jové, evidence “that must at the very least be discarded.”

To do so, Mr Jové’s defence considers it imperative to be allowed to have access to the mobile terminal that the Spanish Guardia Civil paramilitary police confiscated on 20th September, 2017 from the then General Secretary of the Economy Ministry. That is why, among other requests, the defence demands that expert examination be carried out on Mr Jove’s mobile phone, and that the device or a forensic copy of the device be handed over, both to check whether that the mobile phone was also hacked using Pegasus and to be able to counter the accusations of the Guardia Civil.