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Catalan crisis: ‘Rebellion’ and ‘sedition’ explained

  • Published at 10:53 pm November 2nd, 2017
Catalan crisis: ‘Rebellion’ and ‘sedition’ explained
A Spanish judge on Thursday ordered eight members of the deposed Catalan government detained pending further probes into their role in the region's tumultuous quest for independence, a Madrid court said. These include Oriol Junqueras, the deputy of Catalonia's axed leader Carles Puigdemont, who is in Belgium and refused to show up in Madrid for a court summons. Catalan's axed separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, 12 other former ministers and six members of the dissolved regional parliament face possible "sedition" and "rebellion" charges. Puigdemont and four deposed ministers remained holed up in Belgium, refusing to come and potentially be locked up. Spanish authorities could issue an international warrant for their arrest. The speaker of the Catalan parliament, Carme Forcadell, and five of her deputies also showed up for questioning in Madrid, but they went to the Supreme Court which deals with cases involving lawmakers. Their hearing was adjourned until November 9 to give the defence more time to prepare their case. Sedition carries a potential jail sentence of up to 15 years and the charge of rebellion twice that. Both judges are probing whether these offences were committed during the secession process that began late 2015 and culminated in the regional parliament declaring independence last Friday. Following the declaration, the central Spanish government dismissed Catalonia's leaders, imposed direct rule on the semi-autonomous region and called Catalan elections for December 21.


Sedition is defined as "rising up publicly and in turbulent fashion" to "prevent by force or illegally" the law from being applied or authorities from implementing administrative and legal decisions. The leaders of two grassroots Catalan independence groups, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, have been in preventive custody since October 16 on that charge. It stems from a demonstration in Barcelona in September that saw Spanish police raiding a Catalan government office trapped inside the building for hours as protesters gathered outside. Three police vehicles were vandalised and Cuixart and Sanchez allegedly stood on a police car calling for "permanent mobilisation" against the Spanish government. Amnesty International has joined calls for their release, branding the charges "excessive". Tens of thousands of people held a candle-lit rally for them in the Catalan capital Barcelona the day after they were jailed.


Rebellion is "rising up in a violent and public manner," to among other things "breach, suspend or change the constitution" or "declare independence for part of the (Spanish) territory". Jail sentences for those found guilty of this offence range from five to 30 years. Military officers behind a 1981 attempted coup in Spain were found guilty of rebellion. Spain's chief public prosecutor Jose Manuel Maza has accused the deposed Catalan leaders of "encouraging an active insurrection movement through their proclamations and their systematic disobedience of the Constitutional Court". In addition Maza has said that their preparations for and implementation of a banned October 1 independence referendum "constituted an insurrection, a violent uprising encouraged" by the defendants. He said rebellion does not necessarily imply "physical violence" when "the uprising is of such a scale that it has a sufficient capacity of intimidation to discourage action by security forces". This has incensed many in Catalonia where those in favour of independence say their campaign and the referendum were peaceful. They say that the only violence seen on the day was waged by Spanish police.
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