The National High Court in Madrid confirmed to The Spain Report on Wednesday afternoon that it will investigate demonstrators in Barcelona who blocked access to the regional economy ministry during a judicial search last week for the crime of sedition.
Judge Carmen Lamela at the National High Court ruled that she had jurisdiction not because the crime to be investigated is sedition but because the offence allegedly took place against the form of government.
"I understand that jurisdiction for the events denounced by the Public Prosecutor's Office corresponds to this court, not because crimes of sedition in general are the jurisdiction of the National High Court, but because the crime of sedition the Public Prosecutor's Office is investigating might also threaten the form of government (by illegally changing the territorial organisation of the state and by declaring the independence of part of the national territory."
Last Friday, the Public Prosecutor's Office announced it had presented an accusation for that crime before the High Court.
"The facts described" in the accusation, ruled the judge: "although of a provisional nature given the procedural process, might constitute a crime of sedition", as outlined in Article 544 of the Spanish Criminal Code.
The crime of sedition is defined as rising "in a public and tumultuous manner" to prevent public officers from enforcing the law, carries a sentence of 4-8 years imprisonment, or 8-10 years for ringleaders, and 10-15 years for authority figures.
In this case, said the judge, the seditious behaviour not only aimed to stop officers of the law from properly carrying out their duties but did so with the further aim of "illegally changing the organisation of the state", given the nature of the Catalan referendum.
The formal accusation filed by the Public Prosecutor's Office last Friday described the sequence of events, which lasted for several hours—with Civil Guard and court officers unable to leave the building—and named the chairmen of the two leading non-institutional separatist organisations, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òminum Cultural, as leaders of the crowd that day.
An investigation for sedition, then, has now been opened and the judge has ordered the Civil Guard to investigate the facts surrounding the demonstrations in Barcelona last week.