Spain | MPs about to vote on controversial amnesty for Catalan separatists

(Madrid) Spanish deputies must adopt on Tuesday, at first reading, a bill for amnesty for Catalan separatists, which however is still far from being able to come into force due to several investigations and the trench warfare of the opposition .

This amnesty was the non-negotiable condition set by the separatist parties in exchange for their essential support for the renewal in mid-November by Parliament of socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for a new term.

It should lead to the lifting by the courts of proceedings launched against hundreds of independence activists and leaders for their involvement in the attempted secession of Catalonia in 2017, one of the worst political crises experienced by contemporary Spain.

Deeply dividing Spanish society, this measure should primarily benefit Carles Puigdemont, Catalan regional president at the time of the events, who will thus be able to return to Spain more than six years after his flight to Belgium to escape legal proceedings.

The deputies meet Tuesday from 9 a.m. (Eastern time) to vote on this text, which should be able to count on the support of a majority of 178 deputies out of 350 thanks to the votes of the socialists, the far left with who they govern in coalition, and Catalan and Basque parties.

“Impunity versus power”

But despite this first expected green light, numerous obstacles remain before the full application of this measure.

The Popular Party (PP), the main right-wing opposition group, promised to do everything in its power to slow down the examination of the text in the Senate, where it has an absolute majority.

He has already modified the regulations of the upper house with this in mind and will ask for opinions and reports on the text before amending it, which will force it to go back before the deputies to be voted on definitively.

The government “has traded impunity for power”, it represents “the worst version of politics and the worst perversion of justice”, launched Sunday the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, in front of 45,000 supporters gathered in the center of Madrid during a new demonstration against this amnesty.

Sharply criticized for months by part of the judiciary, this amnesty measure is also weakened by legal proceedings likely to escape its scope of application.

On the eve of the MPs’ vote, the magistrate of the Barcelona court investigating alleged links between Carles Puigdemont and Russia announced on Monday that he had extended his investigation for six months, which intends to determine whether the separatist sought to obtain in 2017 the support of the Kremlin for a possible independence of Catalonia.

In a court document, this judge assured that he had “data” confirming “close personal relationships” between relatives of Mr. Puigdemont and people occupying “diplomatic functions or (having) links with the Russian secret services”.

According to the daily El Paísthis investigation could lead to proceedings against Mr. Puigdemont for “treason”, which would not be covered by this amnesty.


A second judicial front is also still open around the mysterious organization “Democratic Tsunami”, behind the blockade of Barcelona airport in October 2019 to protest against the sentencing of Catalan independence leaders to heavy prison sentences.

In this case, judge Manuel García Castellon considers that the acts alleged against Mr. Puigdemont, accused of having led this organization in the shadows, could amount to “terrorism”.

The Socialists were therefore forced to agree last week with the separatists on the drafting of an amendment so that the amnesty would also benefit people accused of “terrorism”, like Mr. Puigdemont, on condition that the facts accused do not constitute “a serious violation of human rights”.

Accused by the government of having political ulterior motives, Judge Castellon reacted by highlighting, in his investigation, the injuries of a police officer during the 2019 unrest, and therefore a serious violation of his rights, in an attempt to to circumvent this amendment.


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