On Monday, Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine separatist leaders from Catalonia to between nine and 13 years — some 100 years in total — behind bars on charges of “sedition” over their role in the independence referendum held in early October 2017, presstv.ir reported.
“We think that this verdict is a massive historical error… We think this is completely outrageous and we don’t think it’s justified and we don’t think it is justice. It is revenge,” said Mireia Borrell during a Wednesday edition of Press TV’s The Debate program.
Although all defendants were acquitted of the gravest charge, rebellion, the rulings have taken tens of thousands of protesters to the streets of the Catalan capital of Barcelona and other cities since Monday.
The rallies were mostly peaceful, but violent clashes were also reported between protesters and the riot police, and footage of the scuffles showed hundreds of masked demonstrators who threw projectiles at officers and set garbage bins and cardboard boxes on fire.
Borrell also strongly rejected the accusation of sedition leveled by the Supreme Court against the leaders, saying the Catalan government at the time pushed the referendum through a “legal” process.
“What happened in September 2017 was that the Catalan government approved — via a legal procedure and following the legal procedure — two laws: one to allow for a referendum and the other one to start a transition if we were to become independent had the referendum been done in a peaceful way without the violence from the police and had it turned to be yes,” she said.
“We think, however you look at it, this can’t be regarded as sedition. Sedition involves an uprising and some sort of violence,” Borrell said, adding that the peaceful demonstrations held after Spain rejected the referendum as “illegal” turned violent as police “violently” hit the voters.
“If this is translated to sedition, there will be very little room for freedom of expression and right of assembly in Spain. So, what we have right now is a situation which not only concerns Catalonia’s brawls but also concerns fundamental rights within the whole of Spain,” she further said.
Borrell also insisted that the region had for years been aspiring for independence through numerous “peaceful and non-violent” demonstrations, seeking the right for self-determination and now for human rights to be respected. She also emphasized that the bid for independence was only based on “dialog.”
Lajos Szaszdi, a political commentator who was also taking part in the debate, condemned the violence during the protests against the court ruling since Monday.
However, Borrell insisted that the violent actions witnessed during the rallies had been “very residual” and could not be generalized to the whole demonstrations held since the rulings.
Since Monday, dozens of protesters have been arrested during rallies across Catalonia.
According to Spain’s Interior Ministry, more than 70 police officers have so far been injured in the clashes, including several who suffered broken bones.
The region’s independence drive attracted worldwide attention, triggering Spain’s biggest political crisis in decades and unnerving financial markets.
The resource-rich region provides at least one-fifth of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP), and many of its residents believe they are disproportionately taxed by the government in Madrid.
Pro-independence sentiments began to soar among Catalans at the peak of Spain’s economic crisis in 2012, with secessionist parties arguing the region would be better off on its own.