Case

Anna Gabriel, catalan MP exiled to Switzerland

Anna Gabriel / Jordi Borràs

Description

Anna Gabriel Sabaté is a former MP for the CUP (Candidacy of Popular Unity – Candidatura d’Unitat Popular) who is currently exiled in Switzerland. 

In December 2017, the Supreme Court enquired her for the crimes of rebellion and sedition, for which she could face 30 years of prison. In February 2018, Anna Gabriel announced that she would not appear before the Supreme Court, fearing that the provisional prison could be agreed as in the case of the members of the government and the president of the Parliament of Catalonia. 

Although later the Supreme Court decided that she would be prosecuted for a crime of disobedience, there is currently an arrest warrant against her. If she stepped on Spanish territory, she would be immediately detained and transferred to Madrid.

Spanish Supreme Court orders the imprisonment of Anna Gabriel

Before

Anna Gabriel Sabaté was elected MP from the CUP (Candidacy of Popular Unity) to the elections on 27 September 2015. After the resignation of number 1 on the list, Gabriel became the most visible face of the candidature which facilitated the investiture of Carles Puigdemont. After a part of the civil society put on the table the proposal of a binding referendum on independence, the CUP conditioned its support to the government to its holding.

After Carles Puigdemont decided not to declare independence on 10 October, the Spanish Senate, at the request of the Spanish government, agreed to the application of article 155 of the Constitution to dissolve the parliament of Catalonia. The Spanish president Mariano Rajoy called for elections to the Parliament of Catalonia for the 21 of December. The CUP decided to run in those elections with other candidates, since the ethical code of the CUP does not allow those who have been MPs to repeat.

On the day after the election, the Supreme Court charged Anna Gabriel for the crimes of rebellion and sedition and summoned her at the end of February. A couple of days before her appearance, Anna Gabriel announced to the media that she was in Switzerland and that her defense strategy would be carried out from there. Her fellow party Mireia Boya, who was also summoned, did appear before the Supreme Court. Before Judge Llarena, and unlike the members of the government and the president of the Parliament, Boya did not retract anything and did not consider 1 October as a symbolic act.

The outcome

After not appearing before the judge, the Supreme Court ordered a Spanish arrest warrant against Anna Gabriel. Finally, Gabriel was prosecuted for a crime of disobedience -that does not imply a prison sentence-, but the arrest warrant remained in force. If Anna Gabriel decided to step on Spanish territory, she would be arrested immediately and transferred to Madrid to appear before the Supreme Court. Also, it can not be ruled out that Anna Gabriel would again be charged with a rebellion crime.

On 21 February, the spokesman of the Department of Justice of Switzerland declared that Anna Gabriel would not be extradited to Spain because this measure is not contemplated in the international or Swiss laws when it comes to political reasons. In May 2018, Spain arrested Hervé Falciani, required by the Swiss authorities for more than a year. This gesture was interpreted as a desperate attempt to pressure Switzerland to achieve the extradition of the pro-independence politicians.

On 30 October, 2019, it was revealed that Spain’s public prosecutor will not seek the extradition of Anna Gabriel. Currently, Anna Gabriel lives in Geneva, where she is working as a labor lawyer and is studying a PhD.

Violated rights

The prosecution of Anna Gabriel is a violation of the right to self-determination of peoples, enshrined in article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also constitutes an attack on freedom of thought, expression and assembly, rights that are also protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights. Anna Gabriel is prosecuted for his parliamentary activity as as an MP, which constitutes an act of political persecution, the aim of which is to criminalize the pro independence movement.

The arrest warrant against Anna Gabriel is an attack on the right to freedom and security, protected by article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. On the other hand, the fact that the Spanish Supreme Court has not even requested Mrs. Gabriel’s extradition shows that the Spanish judicial system is aware that no extradition process will be carried out in the countries where the political exiled currently live. As shown by the process in the Supreme Court with the political prisioners, if Anna Gabriel returned to Spain she would not have a fair trial -article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and article 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

References

Spain’s Supreme Court could charge another Catalan deputy with sedition and rebellion. ElNacional (in English)

Anna Gabriel: refuge in Switzerland, with difficult extradition?. ElNacional (in English)

Former Catalan MP to spurn Spain court summons in Switzerland. Reuters (in English)

Spanish Supreme Court orders arrest of former Catalan MP Anna Gabriel. Reuters (in English)

Switzerland hints it won’t extradite Catalan separatist leader. POLITICO (in English)

Swiss government says it doesn’t extradite for political crimes. ElNacional (in English)

Judge issues arrest warrant for Anna Gabriel in Spain only. ElNacional (in English)

Former MP in Geneva justifies choosing “path of exile”. Catalan News (in English)

Catalan ex-leader Puigdemont, in self-exile in Brussels, to visit Switzerland. Reuters (in English)

Prosecutors ask Interpol whether Puigdemont, Gabriel and Serret can be arrested in Switzerland. ElNacional (in English)

Puigdemont and Gabriel plan internationalisation of the Catalan case in Switzerland. ElNacional (in English)

Spain promises to support Switzerland in UN, doesn’t get commitment over Rovira. ElNacional (in English)

Exiled Anna Gabriel chalks up victory over Spanish government. ElNacional (in English)

Exiled Catalan leader gets Swiss residence permit for five years. Catalan News (in English)

Spain’s Constitutional Court dismisses appeals from Forcadell, Gabriel, Boya and Simó. ElNacional (in English)

Public prosecutor will not seek extradition of former Catalan ministers or MP. Catalan News (in English)

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