Over the last few months, the members of the Generalitat government have been committing crimes. They have worked to build parallel state infrastructures. They have openly and vocally infringed court orders. They have promoted laws, decrees and agreements that have been rejected as illegal by the own Parliament and government’s lawyers. They have voted for, and pledged to implement, a law that explicitly declares that Spanish Constitution is no longer applicable in Catalan territory. They have spent huge amounts of public funds, mobilizing an extensive network of “ambassadors”, governmental agencies and pundits to carry all of this out.
They have done everything in television, before the cameras, explaining what they were plotting at each step. They have given plenty of interviews where they said that they were seeking to challenge the state, that Constitution has had its day, and that they were happy and proud to violate a legal order that they considered obsolete. They got themselves filmed in heroic poses in Parliament, walking among the crowds.
Last Thursday, eight members of this government went to court, they refused to answer any of the prosecutor’s questions, and were held in custody. They were charged of committing exactly the same crimes they said to be committing in front of the cameras.
As usual, the public debate has immediately degenerated into a lament for political prisoners and the politicization of the public attorney and justice. There has been once again talk about Francoism, long-standing fierce repression, and how people goes to prison because of their ideas.
As much as pre-trial detention might be arguable in this case, the situation is much simpler: the members of the Generalitat government have voiced again and again that they want to infringe the constitutional order, to split a region off a country with a meagre majority at Parliament and to turn half of Catalans into foreigners in their own home. This is not only illegal, but also infringes completely the fundamental rights of millions of Spanish citizens. In any Western democracy, that would sent you to a court, and certainly to jail.
Secession is a perfectly legitimate cause. There is neither a perfect constitution, nor a perfect country. One might defend reforms, or might to leave. Nobody in Spain has gone to jail for defending these ideas. What is not legitimate, neither legal nor acceptable under the rule of law is that politicians break countless laws to carry out such such secession, say it and to boast of it on television, and expect to avoid consequences for that.
The imprisonments can be more or less convenient to resolve the conflict (they are not), but we are not talking about political prisoners.