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Sánchez edges deal with Catalan separatists as judges strike back

8 months ago 49

As Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE party and the Catalan separatist formation JxCat, led by former regional president Carles Puigdemont, close in on a deal, Spanish judges have challenged the ‘all-important’ but controversial amnesty law, while some colleagues are pressing ahead with ongoing investigations into Catalan leaders.

In Brussels, PSOE’s third-in-command Santos Cerdán and JxCat leader and former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont are currently working on the details of whom and for how long the controversial amnesty law will apply to. The deal will likely be concluded on Tuesday.

As talks are ongoing in Brussels, judicial authorities in Spain have moved ahead against the amnesty law.

Spain’s judicial highest authority, the General Body of the Judicial Power (CGPJ), stated the amnesty law on Monday, describing it as a “measure to abolish the rule of law”, which “violates the Constitution” and turns justice into “a chimaera”.

The body is currently controlled by a conservative majority, and its members’ renewal has been frozen since 2018, blocked by opposition party Partido Popular (PP).

On Monday, too, a judge dealt an unexpected blow against Puidgemont and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) – the other major Catalan separatist that could benefit from the extraordinary amnesty measure.

The judge in the case against Catalan separatist platform Democratic Tsunami, accused of terrorist crimes, decided to focus investigations on Puigdemont, ERC Secretary General Marta Rovira and 10 other people from the separatist milieu, judicial sources told EFE.

Democratic Tsunami was created in 2019 by several leading figures from Catalan civil society and political parties to oppose court decisions by summoning protesters in specific locations.

Spain’s biggest judges association also issued on 2 November a statement affirming that the amnesty law is “the beginning of the end” of democracy by “breaking the rules of the 1978 Constitution and blowing up the rule of law”.

Negotiations over ‘small print’ 

Over the weekend and on Monday, negotiators from JxCAT and PSOE held several meetings in Brussels to address “very technical issues” in drafting the amnesty law, according to sources from both parties.

Negotiations have entered the “final phase”, and the “small print” is being negotiated “so that there is no ambiguity and the judges limit themselves to enforcing the law”, Jaume Asens, one of the key negotiators, told Spanish public radio RNE in an interview aired on Monday.

There is “no longer any obstacle” to finalising the agreement “in the next few hours, tomorrow at the latest”, Asens said.

Last week, PSOE reached an agreement with the other Catalan separatist party, ERC, which heads the government of Catalonia.

In addition to the amnesty law, the parties agreed to transfer control over the railway system to Catalonia and the pardon of €15 billion of the region’s debt with the central government.

Opposition from PP and VOX

Meanwhile, the right-wing Popular Party (PP/EPP) and far-right VOX (ECR) have announced a fierce battle against the controversial law and have confirmed they will challenge it before the Constitutional Court.

On Monday, PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo announced he will call for demonstrations in all of Spain’s provincial capitals on 12 November to protest against what he considers an “attack on the rule of law” and “the biggest democratic step backwards in our history”.

“First, we will continue [protesting], second, they will not silence us; third, they will not silence us, and fourth, they will not stop us,” he stressed.

(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.Euractiv.es)

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