Guardia Civil questions more officials about Catalan voters abroad
Head of promotion and exterior communications director the latest government representatives to be questioned by Spanish police in relation to October 1 referendum
Guardia Civil officers are continuing to interrogate high-ranking Catalan government figures about details of the sovereignty process, with the head of the executive’s promotion department called in for questioning on Friday. Ignasi Genovès, the director general of Promotion in the Catalan government, was questioned by officers about the campaign to encourage Catalans resident abroad to register to vote in the October 1 referendum. According to sources close to the case, Genovès spent some two hours being interrogated by Guardia Civil officers in the Travessera de Gràcia police station in Barcelona, without the officers finding any reason for further investigation. Earlier in the day, the communications director of the Ministry of Institutional Affairs and Relations and the Exterior and Transparency, Anna Molas, was also questioned by Guardia Civil officers.
Just this week, the Catalan Government accused the Spanish Guardia Civil of "violating the rights" of high-ranking officials following a series of questionings related to the October 1 independence vote. "Persecuting legitimate ideas is abusive, and it is a mistake," Catalan president Carles Puigdemont tweeted on Thursday. Among the government officials asked to give statements to the Spanish police this week were Secretary General of the Presidency Joaquim Nin and Director General of Citizen Attention Jordi Graells. Meanwhile, Jaume Clotet, the executive’s Director General of Communications, and Joan Ignasi Elena, spokesperson for the National Pact for the Referendum, were also interrogated.
On Friday, the Guardia Civil were interested in finding out more about the government’s campaign to get Catalans resident in foreign countries to register to vote in the October 1 referendum. On previous days, Spanish police asked officials about the so-called ‘Vidal case’ in which the Catalan government is accused of obtaining information illegally, the National Pact for the Referendum’s online campaign to gather signatures in favour of a vote agreed with the state, and an event held in Catalonia’s National Theater to present the legislation for the referendum.
On Friday, Molas was the first to be questioned, with the communications director also spending about two hours in the police station, accompanied by her lawyer. On leaving, Molas was unwilling to reveal the subject of the questioning, but sources say that the police found no motive to investigate further. Meanwhile, Genovès arrived at the station just before 11, also accompanied by a lawyer, and also left without making any statements.
“Violation of rights”
The Catalan government has reacted to this week’s series of police interviews by threatening to report the actions of the Guardia Civil, citing the “violation of rights” of its officials. After spokesman, Jordi Turull, announced the government’s intentions on Wednesday, the next day, Catalonia’s high court (TSJC) issued a statement confirming that only three people were under official investigation: former senator, Santiago Vidal, former head of the Advisory Council for National Transition, Carles Viver i Pi-Sunyer, and former secretary of the Catalan government’s tax department, Josep Lluis Salvadó. The court also pointed out in its statement that the summons by the Guardia Civil in recent days "are obligations of judiciary police and were not ordered by the judge of court 13 of Barcelona."