Monday, October 24, 2016

Catalonia moves to annul Franco-era summary courts-martial

Parliament of Catalonia
The Catalan parliament has passed a bill that would annul politically-based summary courts-martial tried under Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Details here. Excerpt:
The text proposes to "declare invalid and without legal effect all summary court-martials and the corresponding sentences instructed by the regime for political reasons". The text also contemplates that the Catalan Department of Justice "issue if requested by the accused or their relatives a certification of the annulment of the procedure and the corresponding sentence". 
“We have an outstanding debt with the people who fought and with the victims of the dictatorship", said the deputy of ‘Junts pel Sí’, Montserrat Palau. "We will not have full democracy without the ethical duty and obligation to restore the dignity and memory of those who gave their lives for democratic ideals: you cannot be democratic without being anti-Francoist”, the politician added.
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One of the instruments of repression of the Franco regime were trials based on the Military Justice Code (CJM). The military courts responsible for its implementation were known as court-martials and, according to article 50 of the CJM, were composed by a President and six other members. All of them, even the prosecutor and the defence lawyers were soldiers. Legal representation was not required. 
In the Francoist court-martials the time between the reading of the charges and the celebration of the trial was shortened so that there was not enough time to collect new evidence. Depending on the gravity of the cases, the legal proceedings could be summary trials, in those situations considered of extreme seriousness, or ordinarily, which accounted for longer periods of instruction and, therefore, the provision of more time to obtain exculpatory evidence and to prepare the defence. The majority of politicians on the Republican side, such as Lluís Companys, were condemned by summary court-martials.
The courts at issue tried 78,331 people, of whom 3358 were executed. It remains to be seen if the Spanish government will go along with the Catalan measure.

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