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Why doesn't Marta Rovira return to Spain?


The government's penal reform has cleared the judicial horizon of ERC number two, who fled to Switzerland five years ago now and appears as the main beneficiary of this legal change, but she continues to delay her return

The Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, instructor of the case against the leaders of the Catalan independence


, has practically left the runway free for the voluntary return to Spain of the general secretary of ERC, Marta Rovira, who fled to Switzerland just five years to evade the action of justice.

Until now, the republican leader was prosecuted for sedition, a crime that entailed high prison sentences, but the penal reform agreed in December between the Government and ERC repealed that crime precisely to reduce the punishment for the leaders of the


, and, as a consequence, Judge Llarena issued an order last Tuesday in which he prosecutes Rovira solely for disobedience, which implies only penalties of disqualification.

This rules out on paper that the number two of ERC ends up in jail, and makes it

de facto

the clearest beneficiary of the legal reform.

Rovira, however, continues to delay an eventual return: he distrusts, he says, the action of justice and gives as an example the divergence of criteria between Llarena and the Prosecutor's Office.

There is also a political reason, almost of a personal nature, according to Republican sources: given the relative fiasco that, for the moment, the penal reform has caused for various pro-independence leaders —because the Supreme Court does not consider that the attenuated version can be applied to them. of the crime of embezzlement as the Executive intended-, Rovira fears appearing as the only beneficiary of this movement, a


in the eyes of those who continue to consider the fugitives of the

process "exiled"

and those who are pending trial in Spain.

In a similar situation as the number two of ERC is the former counselor of the Generalitat and current MEP Clara Ponsatí, who fled to Belgium with Carles Puigdemont at the end of October 2017 and who has now also gone from being prosecuted for sedition to being only for disobedience , so, in principle, he is not exposed to jail either.

Marta Rovira does not plan to move from Switzerland for now, where she fled at the end of March 2018 after being prosecuted for a crime of rebellion.

In that first order, Llarena blamed the Republican, among other things, for coordinating hundreds of pro-independence mayors to ensure that on 1-O there were places available to celebrate the illegal referendum.

Until now, her defense claimed that this initial prosecution for rebellion made it impossible to return, since this crime implies immediate preventive detention.

Despite the change in scenery, the lawyers believe that there is no certainty that she will not go to prison once she sets foot on Spanish territory.

"I have been accused of a crime of rebellion for five years, without having any type of judicial notification that says that this has changed," Rovira insisted this Saturday in an interview on Catalunya Ràdio.

After the sentence that in October 2019 sentenced Oriol Junqueras and eight other pro-independence leaders to prison terms, Llarena launched new Euro-orders against the fugitives prosecuted for rebellion who were in EU territory —including Puigdemont— to replace that crime with that of sedition.

However, he never took that step for Rovira, because with Switzerland the channel for a surrender is not the Eurowarrant, but extradition (a theoretically longer and more cumbersome process).

For this reason, despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled out the conviction for rebellion in the process trial


the Republican insisted that nothing guaranteed that it would not be applied to her case.

Even now, with the repeal of sedition, Rovira — whose family moved with her to Switzerland — insists that her situation remains uncertain and that the Prosecutor's Office contradicts Llarena.

“They tell me that they would arrest me if I do not go to the Supreme Court to testify for disobedience, but at the same time the prosecutor says that it could not be for disobedience because the accusation cannot be changed through an interlocutory that is not of accusations.

I have no guarantee of knowing what will happen,” she asserts.

Marta Rovira attends a meeting of the ERC executive by videoconference in November 2022.Albert Garcia

Despite the Republican's fears, the judge's brief confirms two very different scenarios: the two escaped independence leaders —Rovira and Ponsatí— now only have a national arrest warrant.

For them there is no international search, capture and entry order under pressure like the one issued against Puigdemont and former councilors Toni Comín and Luís Puig.

This difference is due to the fact that, in addition to disobedience, they are being prosecuted for embezzlement, a crime punishable by up to 12 years in prison.

The arrest warrant issued against Ponsatí and Rovira implies that, if they return to Spain, they would only be detained to give a statement before the judge and immediately released again, as explained by Llarena himself in his last order.

The future that would await both of them if they returned is very similar to that followed by other fugitives from the


who decided to end their flight after guaranteeing that they would only be persecuted for disobedience, such as former counselor Meritxell Serret (also from ERC). or the former leader of the CUP Anna Gabriel.

Both appeared voluntarily in the high court (Serret in March 2021 and Gabriel in July 2022) accompanied by their lawyers, and were released hours later.

Weeks later, they testified before Llarena, who, after questioning them, concluded the summary.

The Supreme Court sent the case to Catalonia so that they could be tried there, as it has done with all the pro-independence leaders accused of disobedience after 1-O.

Rovira and Ponsatí's doubts, however, also have a political and personal component.

Despite the fact that the independence unit has been shattered, the agreement not to charge against the lines of defense adopted by those accused of the

process remains more or less intact


Ponsatí, close to Puigdemont, has always closed ranks in defense of the supposed "exile" as a means of confrontation with the State, and her return to Spain could go against the arguments with which the secessionists hope to win the legal battle in the European Court of Human Rights.

A return of Rovira, with municipal elections in the offing, would give Junts ammunition to delve into his idea that the PSOE and ERC agreed to the penal reform to judicially save the ERC leader and sink Puigdemont (who does face prison sentences ).

In ERC they maintain that what happened last week with the case of Josep Maria Jové and Lluís Salvadó, the main collaborators of Junqueras during the


, supports their thesis that "the repressive spirit against the independence movement" continues.

Both are pending trial and, although the State Attorney (the Government's legal service) has renounced accusing Salvadó and requests reduced sentences for Jové, the Prosecutor's Office follows the path of the Supreme Court and maintains a request for high sentences for both.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-27

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