In English Voices From Spain

Name the sin, but also the sinner

Originally published in Spanish: “Hay que decir el pecado y el pecador”Tsevan Rabtan. El Mundo.

April 21, 2019

In The Trouble with Harry, Hitchcock’s peculiar film, all the characters believe they have killed a neighbor and are dedicated to bury and unearth their corpse repeatedly to prevent being discovered, while it turns out that the man has died of a heart attack. It is a comedy because it represents an upside down world: those «guilty» of a non-existent crime are trying to hide it.

Since a trial is not a comedy, its logic is not the same. The defendants, like the proverbial cat, start with a number of tokens that have to be lost to end out being convicted. First, the accusations have to prove the existence of the facts that we punish in the penal codes. Then those facts must be attributed to someone, who executed them directly, or participated in some significant way, possessed some kind of domination over them or incited someone to commit them. And, finally, they must prove that any of those forms of execution was voluntary, that they wanted to do what they did.

The logical order in the series of events does not have to be reflected in the presentation of proofs, and the accumulation of seemingly unconnected pieces of the puzzle, which are sometimes repeated to eliminate the ambiguity that favors the accused, can create an initial sensation of chaos. In this trial there were some facts, almost glaring, which are very easy to establish: for instance, disobedience. But other would require a lot of proofs.

After half of the trial, there are defendants who have lost some tokens, but not all. I will put as example the accusation of rebellion. The accusations maintain that there was a concerted plan with a purpose – the secession of Catalonia – that admitted and considered violence as a formula for carrying out a banned referendum which was designed as a trigger. In that plan, the unconstitutional laws and the discourse that justified them were the elements that allegedly would legitimate the secession, but the central and essential factor was that supposedly democratic act. The strategy was a win-win situation: if there was no opposition, the circle was completed; if there was, and the State made a legitimate use of force, in the best of cases they would be able to pose as victims and enact a discourse of persecution and violation of human rights was that could replace the referendum itself. At worst, the referendum would still take place and depict an authoritarian but also incapable State. The accusations, to support this, are going to use both the pieces of the puzzle, and the explanation of those in charge of obtaining them.

As for the pieces of the puzzle, they continued to be accumulated. More than 50 agents, officers, sub-inspectors and inspectors of the national police have declared on this tenth week and have continued to complete the map of the schools in which they took action, to the detriment of the accused. There have been described more organized acts of mass opposition to police action, of «defense» of the polling stations, of the use of violence and of the inaction of the Mossos. The situation of the Mossos is not improving and the cases pile up: some were expressly asked to act as mediators and refused, after a visit from their bosses; others witnessed the confrontation between a dozen people and national police officers trying to remove barricades that ended up being injured, without acting. In addition, as I predicted, the initial insistence of the defenses on police action as a possible source of violence – absolutely useless at this time of the trial – has only caused the prosecutors themselves to introduce these elements more openly in their own questions, not shying away from them, but taking advantage of them in their strategy of convincing the court that they demonstrate the opposition that will allow them to consider proven, at least, the sedition. I think that, for that reason, the defenses have ended opting for an increasingly lower profile and that, even focused on obtaining information that may question the statements when we see the videos, begin to give this part for granted.

As the people responsible for obtaining these pieces are explaining during their testimonies their lines of research and the drafts that were guiding them, this information is properly added to the corpus of evidence for the trial, making unnecessary the intelligence expert testimony, an often-abused formula that replaces the judges with the conclusions of the police. An example was the testimony of the commander of the Civil Guard this week. His statement was effective for the allegations, in particular, on some issues.

Some of these issues are: the importance of the parallel legislation being passed; the use of tension as an instrument that is turned on or off depending on the reactions of the State; the emphasis on the, in my opinion, more and more relevant declarations of the Mossos commanders after October 1st – for instance, those of Trapero praising the «excellent work» of the Mossos or stating that «They can impose on us what to do , but we decide how to do it», or those of October 13th already analyzed in a previous article-; or the explanation of some specific issues that has appeared in the trial, such as the absence of Trapero in the coordination meetings. This would have been caused not by a personal problem with Pérez de los Cobos, but as a form of protection, as detailed in an email from Puig to Forn, in which it is mentioned that they could «lose» Trapero if he was forced to choose between obeying and disobeying as a result of attending those meetings.

I go back to the tokens. For instance, how many has Jordi Sanchez still left. The «draft» of the witness was undermined by the excellent and accurate cross examination of Sanchez’ lawyer, Ana Bernaola, who introduced a serious doubt about whether there really is some substance in the evidence to attribute responsibilities to his client. He cannot be related to the CDRs [TN: The Committees for the Defense of the Referendum], with the “scoles obertes” [TN: the platform to occupy the schools serving as polling stations to prevent them from being foreclosed by the police] or with the resistance workshops, mainly because the most relevant proofs of charge are emails that he received, rather than sent.

As we attend a trial and not a comedy, the evidences presented,  and not the suspicions, are what matters. One of the weak points of the accusation in the trial for now is – aside from the facts of September 20th – the one related to participation of the presidents of ANC and Òmnium.

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