Judicial persecution of MPs, councils, and local politicians in connection with the Catalan independence process
DIPLOCAT – Over 400 cases have been brought to court and several politicians have been barred from office
Recent court-cases regarding events related to the non-binding vote on independence on 9 November 2014 and the binding referendum on independence for 1 October 2017 in Catalonia have drawn the attention of the international press. These trials include those of Carme Forcadell, the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Artur Mas, the former President of the Catalan government, and three former Catalan ministers.
However, these cases are merely the tip of the iceberg – there are many more local politicians facing court cases at present for different situations connected to Catalonia’s independence process. At present, there are over 400 cases. This is the current situation:
Cases against members of the Parliament and the Government
- Former President of the Catalan government, Artur Mas, and former ministers, Joanna Ortega (ex-Minister of Governance and Institutional Relations) and Irene Rigau (ex-Minister of Education), were sentenced in March 2017 with fines ranging between €24,000 and €36,000 and barred from public office for periods between 18 and 24 months for their involvement in the organization of the non-binding public consultation process on independence held on 9 November 2014.
- Another court case in March 2017 saw Francesc Homs, former Minister of Presidency in Mas’ government, sentenced by the Spanish Supreme Court (highest judicial level in Spain) with a €30,000 fine and a 13-month bar from office for his involvement in the 9 November 2014 vote too. As a result, Homs had to give up his seat (for the PDECat party) in the Spanish Congress.
- The Spanish Court of Accounts or Audit (Tribunal de Cuentas) is currently studying a petition from the Public Prosecutor’s office to investigate the responsibility of Artur Mas and the aforementioned ex-ministers regarding how public money (€5,200,000) was spent on the 9 November vote. The Public Prosecutor is requesting Mas and former ministers return this money themselves, thus affecting their own personal financial assets.
- Carme Forcadell, Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, has been accused of contempt for allowing – in her role as Speaker – a vote in July 2016 within the parliament regarding the independence road map. She testified before the court in October 2016 and is currently awaiting the court’s sentence.
- In another court case, Carme Forcadell, alongside other members of the Parliamentary Bureau, Joan Corominas, Anna Simó, Ramona Barrufet and Joan Josep Nuet, testified in April 2017 before the Catalan Supreme Court of Justice. They are accused of disobeying the Constitutional Court in allowing the Catalan Parliament to debate and vote on two resolutions in favour of holding a referendum in Catalonia.
- Spain’s Public Prosecutor has filed charges against Meritxell Borràs, current Minister for Governance in the Catalan government, and Francesc Esteve, the former Secretary General of the Ministry, for the government’s purchasing of ballot boxes in preparation for the referendum. The Spanish government has also threatened legal actions against the firms which have shown an interest in supplying the ballot boxes.
Local politicians facing court
At present, there are over 400 cases categorized as follows.
Administrative proceedings against town halls presented by the Spanish government delegation in Catalonia:
- For not flying the Spanish flag on town halls 105
- For promoting fiscal sovereignty 106
- For paying annual membership fees to the AMI (see below) 96
- For declaring their municipality “a free and sovereign Catalan territory” 47
- For opening the town hall on 12 October (Spanish national holiday) 58
SUBTOTAL: 412 cases *
Other proceedings related to local politicians
Legal proceedings presented by the Spanish public prosecutor:
- Against 8 municipalities which passed a motion of support regarding the Catalan Parliament’s resolution 1/XI.
- Against Vic town councillor, Joan Coma, for the crime of inciting sedition after saying “you must break eggs to make an omelette” in a debate on independence.
Proceedings presented by the Berga law court following a legal complaint by the Popular Party (PP):
- Against the Berga town mayor, Montse Venturós, for the electoral crime of flying a pro-independence flag from the town hall during election day.
Proceedings presented by the Badalona law court following a legal complaint by the PP:
- Against 6 councillors for the crime of disobedience after they opened the Badalona town hall on a Spanish national holiday.
TOTAL: 428 legal proceedings and complaints related to local politicians and the independence process.
Different courts around Catalonia have already dismissed or filed 150 of these cases (22 with definitive sentences from the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia).
This data has been collected by the Catalan Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI). Maps and more information can be found here: http://www.municipisindependencia.cat/mapes/municipis-sobiranistes-denunciats/