Row breaks out in Catalan parliament over jailed terrorism suspects

Some lawmakers walked out in protest during the session on Thursday evening, others chanted “freedom” and one was expelled from the chamber

Angry scenes between lawmakers inside the Catalan parliament on Thursday.
Angry scenes between lawmakers inside the Catalan parliament on Thursday.Silvia Jardí (ACN)

A political debate inside the Catalan parliament descended into a tremendous row on Thursday evening over the recent arrests of radical separatists who are facing terrorism charges that include possession of bomb-making materials.

At the most heated session in recent years, separatist politicians led by regional premier Quim Torra began chanting “freedom,” alluding to the seven members of the Committees to Defend the Republic (CDR), a grassroots group that has carried out actions such as roadblocks to defend Catalan independence.

The CUP wants to debate membership of the EU, NATO and other international organizations

On Thursday, it emerged that Judge Manuel García-Castellón of Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, was sending these seven individuals to prison without bail while the investigation proceeds. The Monday raids turned up equipment and instructions on how to make homemade explosives. Investigators believe the suspects may have been planning acts of violence to coincide with the second anniversary of the unauthorized independence referendum of October 1, 2017.

Soon after separatist lawmakers expressed support for the suspects, Carlos Carrizosa, a representative of the non-separatist party Ciudadanos (Citizens) was expelled from the chamber after repeatedly telling pro-independence parliamentarians that “we feel threatened by those who back terrorism.”

His fellow party members walked out with him, but they were not the first ones. Earlier, the four representatives of the anti-capitalist CUP party had left in protest over the judge’s decision to keep the seven CDR suspects in preventive custody.

Madrid reaction

The caretaker Socialist Party (PSOE) government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is planning to mount legal appeals against some or all of the proposals seen in the Catalan parliament on Thursday evening, including the demand for the removal of the Civil Guard from the northeastern Spanish region.

The main purpose of the session was to debate and vote on a series of proposals, including one sponsored by the CUP that defends “the legitimacy of institutional and civil disobedience” as a response to an upcoming Supreme Court decision in the trial of separatist leaders who headed the unilateral secession attempt of 2017. The motion passed with 69 votes in favor and 25 against. Thirty-five of the 36 lawmakers from Ciudadanos refused to vote.

The text also defends that “the parliament of Catalonia recognizes that Catalonia exercised its right to self-determination” at the unauthorized referendum of October 1, 2017, which is defined as “legitimate and legal.”

The CUP proposal also contains a previously unseen demand among Catalan parties, which have traditionally been pro-European: a debate and a decision “on membership of the European Union, the monetary and economic union, NATO and other international organizations.”

The pro-independence majority in parliament also asked for an amnesty law if the Supreme Court should find the secessionist leaders guilty of rebellion. Ciudadanos, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and the Popular Party (PP) voted against, while Catalunya en Comú Podem, the Catalan branch of Podemos, abstained.

Separatist lawmakers additionally demanded that the Civil Guard law enforcement agency be pulled out of Catalonia entirely.

English version by Susana Urra.


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