Until a dramatic change in pre-trial detention is dealt with, we will continue to show that there are innocent people in prison.
Article translated by AnnA (@annuskaodena)
A year ago the first pre-trial detentions were ruled for various members of social organisations, members of the Catalan government and the President of the Catalan Parliament. Many days, many hours in captivity, without a conviction, without a trial, without having been questioned by the appropriate legal authority in relation to the case in question.
Clearly we have had several opportunities to appear before the examining magistrate, or even before the Appeals Chamber of the Supreme Court, but only to discuss the requests for release as well as the inadequacy of maintaining provisional detention and never getting to the bottom of the case, neither in the defence of our actions nor in the demonstration of the inexistence of any crimes.
Fully convinced of our innocence, of the fact that there were no violent acts, of the legitimacy of our political activities and the defence of views by democratic and peaceful means, we say that we are being subjected to a prison sentence without trial, which is a violation of the presumption of innocence.
Beyond the personal damage caused by this situation, beyond the suffering of relatives -the loss of a bond with small children and elderly parents-, submission to this early, extraordinary and disproportionate sentence constitutes a violation of the judicial guarantees system, which clearly not only affects those investigated in the special case of the Supreme Court, but also affects more than 7,000 people in the Spanish state, who are in the same situation. A measure that was conceived as exceptional, concerns a very high percentage of the 60,000 inmates in the state.
Some of us have been in detention centres. We have shared captivity with dozens of people who are waiting to be tried for up to four years. We have been direct witnesses of prison sentences in advance, without trial, by means of pre-trial detention, of the literal custody of human beings resulting from the collapse of the judiciary and a very poor functioning that ultimately violates the fundamental right to freedom, the presumption of innocence or the effective legal protection. An embarrassment that all citizens should question.
The margin of discretion available to the investigating judges to dictate imprisonment, or to resolve requests for release, is extremely high. This margin of discretion, the absence of a legislation that would regulate assumptions and establish certain ruled requirements, is in conflict with the protection of the fundamental right to freedom, the pillar of any advanced democracy.
It should be recalled that pre-trial detention can only be agreed when it is objectively necessary and when no other measures, much less restrictive for the right to freedom, can achieve the same results as pre-trial detention.
And the question is: If, as expressed in the various Supreme Court’s indictments, one believes that there is a risk of flight (a risk which is hard to believe due to the behaviour of those of us who are in prison and who have attended, promptly and rigorously, to all judicial notices), are there no measures, in the XXI century, to ensure the removal of this risk? The answer is clear. Yes, there are.
With regard to the risk of reoffending, one of the reasons pointed out by Judge Llarena to justify keeping us in prison, is to do with our pro-independence/sovereignty ideology, an ideology that coexists “in a political context in which there is no certainty that the intention, to achieve the independence of Catalonia, has disappeared”. In other words, we are in pre-trial detention because of our political views, for not having renounced to Catalonia’s right to self-determination.
By depriving us of our freedom, also restricts our defence tools and mechanisms. Not only because the accumulated months have an impact in our bodies and minds, but also because they cause an imbalance of power. The Prosecution (Prosecutor’s Office, VOX and State Attorney) will have prepared the trial in very different conditions to ours, without time limitation, without restriction of tools, without technical limitations. This is a violation of the principle of equality.
Therefore, a discretionary decision from an examining magistrate directly affects, at first glance, four fundamental rights: freedom, presumption of innocence, equality and the right to a fair trial. When exceptionality becomes the norm, pre-trial detention becomes abusive.
As long as a new regulation is not dealt with, a dramatic change in this deprivation of freedom, we will continue to show, whenever we have the chance, that there are innocent people in prison, that we do not agree with this proposed sentence we face and, in the end, we will prove the failure of the system if an acquittal is handed down. Surely this will not compensate for the damage suffered, but it is likely to help avoid similar situations in the future.
Font: Eldiario.es @eldiario.es
Prison of Lledoners, 21th of October 2018
Data de publicació: 26th of October 2018