2019-10-14 Spain

Well, Spain is joining the world on its slide to the moral bottom.

Catalonia leader jailed for 13 years over independence referendum. Suddenly I remember torture in Spain and I realize that I really don’t like Spain.



The title does not make justice to the events nor the charges.

The “leader” was actually the vice-president of the autonomous region’s government. He, among others, knowingly disobeyed judges’ orders from both the autonomous region and the Supreme Court (remember: this is why separation of powers is good), and abused the power conferred to him to follow a plan that contradicted the Constitution (Article 2, no less).

It’s easy supporting actions from authorities when they are done for reasons we agree with, it might even seem brave. But when the authority is above the law agreed upon, what’s the difference with autocracy?

Police torture and the GAL were despicable, and placed the Spanish government and police forces them not far away from the killers they fighted against. I don’t know what that has in common with the events in Catalonia, other than “Spain”.

Best regards,

2019-10-28 22:53 UTC

That’s why the title is “Spain.”

Also, from my perspective, this is cruel and unusual punishment. Here in Switzerland, 20 years is the maximum. All crimes go on this scale. The problem is him getting a 13 years punishment.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-10-29 06:55 UTC

That’s an interesting remark; I investigated a little bit... According to the following source, there is also life sentence where the law so indicates.

Gemäss Artikel 40 ff. StGB beträgt die Dauer der Freiheitsstrafe in der Regel mindestens sechs Monate; die Höchstdauer beträgt 20 Jahre. Wo es das Gesetz ausdrücklich bestimmt, dauert die Freiheitsstrafe lebenslänglich. (https://www.bj.admin.ch/dam/data/bj/sicherheit/smv/dokumentation/smv-ch-d.pdf, page 4)

One of the cases is for actions which seriously harm the independence of the Federation (”Angriffe auf die Unabhängigkeit der Eidgenossenschaft”). I wonder, is this very different from “the unity of Spain”? The point I’m trying to make is that most countries take their existence quite seriously.

It might be the case that the punishment for “sedition” is too onerous in spanish law. I honestly don’t know. But these people (except two of them) were lawmarkers in power. They knew the law. Moreover their parties were and are in power of the regional government and had and have remarkable power in the central legislative bodies. They make the law. Only that, this time, they decided to change it undemocratically, that is, without respect of the procedures agreed upon.

With regards to the number of years, I’ve come to the conclusion that sentence years are a technicality of the Judicial system, and do not correspond to Earth years. As an example, some E.T.A. killers were sentenced to multiple thousand years, but were released after tens. In the precise case of these independentists, the law establishes that they can be released at the sole discretion of the regional prison service (where they serve), which is dependent on the regional executive. You might be surprised to know that the party in power at this time in Catalonia is the party of (some) of the jailed. As far as I understand, they could already have released them, why don’t they do that?

As to judging whether the judges’ sentence is appropriate and proportional to the actions, I haven’t read the 493 page document excruciatinly explaining their reasoning (you can have a go here https://elpais.com/politica/2019/10/14/actualidad/1571035592_144762.html). In any case, the case will most probably be brought to EU courts, so we’ll know then what they opine.

It’s complicated.

If all this captures your interest, I recommend reading about the manouvers they conducted in the regional parlament during Sempteber 2017 and up to beginning of October. It’s a learning experience in ”democracy”.

Best regards,

2019-10-30 16:23 UTC

As for the situation in Switzerland, the first example that came to mind was article Art. 64 on indefinite incarceration. There are a number of conditions attached. Many people (me included) also consider this a violation of human rights. See for example the article on humanrights.ch.

If you read Art. 266 paragraph 2:

Any person who enters into a relationship with the government of a foreign state or its agents with the aim of bringing about a war against the Confederation is liable to a custodial sentence of not less than three years.

In serious cases a life sentence may be imposed.

So, the starting point would be three years, if and only if foreign states or their agents are involved, and the aim as a war against the Confederation. I don’t think this is in the same ballpark as what I’m criticising in my blog post.

As for the knowing the law: not knowing the law doesn’t protect us from punishment, therefore knowing the law should not make the punishment harsher. But my point is precisely that the law is unjust, the punishment cruel, and without knowing the details I am sure the judges would have found a way to reach a different conclusion – but no, they felt 20 years was good. Since you referred to the balance of power: the legislative branch makes the law but the judiciary branch doesn’t mindlessly follow the law, it interprets and applies the law. The letter of the law is not an excuse for applying it in the harshest terms possible.

I’d prefer not to expand the discussion to include ETA or soon we’ll talk about all of Spanish history, the colonies, Franco, and more. Let’s not go there.

I hope the EU courts will overturn the decision.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-10-30 22:41 UTC

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