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17 d’abr. 2019

"Tumultuous masses"

The Spanish police seem keen to track down "tumultuous masses" during the 2017  referendum, to get judges to charge voters for their passive resistance on #1Oct. This is an English translation of an article by Oriol Solé @urisole. I hope he and the newspaper don't mind.
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The Sollicitor-General calls for 1-O voters to be charged for forming a "tumultuous mass" against the Police

The Sollicitor-General insists on calling for charges being brought against injured voters who denounced the police intervention of  2017 (the referendum) in Barcelona, ​​whom it accuses of forming a "tumultuous mass" against the Police. In an appeal of deep political content, the State Legal Office criticizes the refusal of the judge to investigate the voters, considering his "merely passive" attitude as well as the investigator's assessment that they were "direct victims of the situation of confrontation generated by the public powers".

The Barcelona Provincial Court has accumulated all the appeals of the cases on the 1 October police intervention. While the injured and the Barcelona City Council have challenged the investigation in about 15 centres, the agents' counsels, exercised by police unions and the State Legal Office, insist on calling for voters to be charged for a wide range of offences, ranging from disobedience and resistance to authority to assault or public disorder with threats of violence.

In his appeal before the Provincial Court, to which this newspaper has had access, Sollicitor-General Severo Bueno de Sitjar de Togores endorses in its entirety the appeal lodged by the Professional Union of Police officers, which calls for charging of 36 voters injured in four schools that reported or filed complaints against the police, as well as for the identification of other demonstratos that appear in the videos produced in the case and their possible role as "organizers of the resistance" and their relationship with the CDRs [Referendum Defence Committees].

The point of departure for the State Lawyer is that all citizens knew that the 1October vote was forbidden, so they acted knowingly to prevent the officers' order to confiscate ballot boxes and ballot papers. "When a citizen observes that the police want to enter a place in the exercise of their functions, they know that their legal obligation is to clear the way without raising other issues.To prevent passage is unlawful", argues Bueno de Sitjar de Togores.

From here, he argues, "there are many other circumstances that prove that the tumultuous mass, knowing that the police had orders to remove the ballot boxes, wanted precisely to prevent that." For example, that "the mass was crammed in the doorway" of Prosperitat school when the officers arrived. "The masses were shouting 'Votarem, votarem', which reveals that they knew that the police were trying to prevent an illegal vote and that they wanted to prevent it from being prevented. In no ordinary election do people go to vote shouting 'Votarem, votarem '", he goes on.

The Sollicitor-General also argues that the agents made a "general requirement through a public address system" upon arriving at the centre and that "those immediately gathered were "verbally and individually" required to allow passage. Likewise, the advance of the police to the door of the school is for the State Lawyer a "tacit requirement".

The lawyer adds as an incriminating reason the testimony of the voters as whistleblowers, who claimed they were in the centre to "defend their right to vote," which, according to Bueno de Sitjar de Togores, "already implies they knew that it was fobidden."

For its part, the Professional Union of Police calls for charges against voters because "the protection of the masses", he argues, "does not exclude the criminal responsibility of those who opposed the police authority with force or with their own bodies". It also notes "the contempt and lack of respect of the population gathered at the polling stations towards the National Police and the refusal to let them freely carry out the court mandate."

Voters are not "victims"

In addition to requesting the charging of the voters, the Sollicitor-General's appeal focuses on censuring the considerations of the investigating judge who refused to investigate the demonstrators. Judge Francisco Miralles placed the voters that the State Legal Office and the police union want to attribute as "direct victims of the situation of confrontation generated by the public powers themselves", that "transferred to the street" the conflicts "that ought to have been resolved in the state and regional institutions".

Charging citizens who tried to prevent police action with their own bodies, the investigator added, would mean "transferring responsibility for the failure of the institutions". It should be remembered that the judge has charged a voter for throwing a fence at the officers. This is Roger Español, who then lost the sight of an eye by the firing of a police rubber bullet.
The Sollicitor-General rejects the main premises and recalls that the "tumultuous mass" in the schools acted "invited by the region's public powers", which in addition to attaching "criminal effects" to the political leaders "does not eliminate the criminal responsibility of those who participated in the tumult". "And of course, it does not diminish the gravity of their behaviour," he adds. In actual fact, among the documents on which the lawyer based his text is the indictment of the pro-independence leaders in the procés case, in which Judge Llarena concluded that the Jordis "encouraged the Catalans to go to the polling stations on 1 October and impede the role of the police forces".

City Hall and Prosecutor's Office oppose

The Office of the Public Prosecutor, the lawyers of the complainant voters on whom chages are being called for, and the City Council of Barcelona, ​​who is exercising the popular accusation, oppose the request of the police union and the State Lawyer. "The generic request of accusation of whistleblowers for being present in the place does not allow the existence of any indication of their participation in a crime of resistance or disobedience to the authority to be inferred", states the prosecutor.
In the City Council's opinion, the union and the State lawye carry out "a kind of collective and generic charging of the citizens" concentrated in the polling stations. It also emphasizes that the accusation is requested only against voters who denounced "overreaching" of the Police and recalls that the images of what happened in the schools do not "show any attack" against the officers, but only "a passive attitude", just as the investigator had concluded.

The State lawyer and linguistic immersion

Severo Bueno de Sitjar de Togores, in addition to directing the Sollicitor-General's Office in Catalonia, is an old acquaintance of the Barcelona judicial chronicles. He brought cases against the Generalitat's linguistic immersion and in 2014 the Supreme Court ruled in his favour, thus enabling his daughter to study in Spanish at a state-aided school in Barcelona.

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