Spain’s Supreme Court has handed out three-year jail sentences to eight people who took part in a 2011 demonstration in Barcelona, which prevented Catalan lawmakers from being able to enter the regional parliament. The eight have been found guilty of crimes against state institutions.
In making the ruling, judges overturned a 2014 decision by the National High Court that absolved all but one of the 20 demonstrators accused. The only protestor to be convicted was found guilty of a minor offense for painting a cross on the back of Catalan Socialist Party deputy Montserrat Tura.
The police charges to clear the 2011 protest resulted in injuries to 45 people and six arrests
The Supreme Court believes that the lower court made a mistake in how it resolved the conflict between the protestors’ rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and the right of citizens to participate via their legitimate parliamentary representatives in parliament. The exercising of the protestors’ rights cannot “halt the regular work of the legislative body,” it said.
Linked to the 15-M popular protest movement, the siege of the Catalan parliament took place on June 15, 2011 when around 600 protestors occupied the building’s entrance hall with the aim of preventing deputies from entering to pass that year’s regional budget.
The police charges to clear and unblock the surrounding area, around Barcelona’s Ciutadella Park, resulted in injuries to 45 people and six arrests for assault, resisting arrest and disobeying law-enforcement officers.
Ten or so lawmakers were surrounded, rebuked and even assaulted by protestors when they tried to enter parliament on foot. Catalan premier Artur Mas, speaker Núria de Gispert and 30 other deputies were unable to reach the building by car and needed to be brought in by helicopter. The session had to be suspended for half-an-hour as the riots continued outside.