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Puigdemont meets Spanish General Prosecutor amid independence court cases

The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, and the Spanish General Prosecutor, José Manuel Maza, met on Wednesday in Barcelona behind closed doors. During the meeting, Puigdemont explained his concerns to Maza about the legal proceedings against pro-independence politicians in Catalonia. “To insist on the ‘judicialization’ of politics is, without a doubt, a mistake,” said Catalan Minister of Justice, Carles Mundó, who had accompanied the president, in later declarations to the press. The State Prosecutor, however, avoided making any statements by leaving the premises through a side door. According to a press release, published by the Public Prosecutor's Office, the meeting between Puigdemont and Maza took place as a matter of “institutional courtesy” and “questions of judicial prosecution” were not addressed. However, the Spanish General Prosecutor did answer Puigdemont’s concerns saying that he would always “fulfill his duty as the law commands”. The meeting took place only two days after Maza had announced he would act against any “possible illegal action related to the independence process”.

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25 May 2017 10:49 AM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, and the Spanish General Prosecutor, José Manuel Maza, met on Wednesday in Barcelona behind closed doors. During the meeting, Puigdemont explained his concerns to Maza about the legal proceedings against pro-independence politicians in Catalonia. “To insist on the ‘judicialization’ of politics is, without a doubt, a mistake,” said Catalan Minister of Justice, Carles Mundó, who had accompanied the president, in later declarations to the press. The State Prosecutor, however, avoided making any statements by leaving the premises through a side door. According to a press release, published by the Public Prosecutor's Office, the meeting between Puigdemont and Maza took place as a matter of “institutional courtesy” and “questions of judicial prosecution” were not addressed. However, the Spanish General Prosecutor did answer Puigdemont’s concerns saying that he would always “fulfill his duty as the law commands”. The meeting took place only two days after Maza had announced he would act against any “possible illegal action related to the independence process”.


The meeting of the Spanish General Prosecutor, José Manuel Maza, and Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, took place within the framework of the meeting of the High Public Prosecutors’ Board of the Spanish Autonomous Communities, which takes place on Thursday in Barcelona. Only a few days earlier, Maza had announced that his prosecutors are going to study a report published in El País about an alleged draft of the Catalan law of Transitional Jurisprudence and “take the necessary steps” in the event that they “detect any possible breach of law”.

Last week, Maza already ordered the Public Prosecutor's Office of Catalonia to file a complaint before the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) against the Catalan Minister of Government, Meritxell Borràs, and the Secretary General of her department, Francesc Esteve, for having started the formalities for purchasing ballot boxes.

According to the Minister of Justice, Carles Mundó, who accompanied Carles Puigdemont in the meeting, the encounter was “as cordial as always”, and lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. During the meeting, the Catalan President and the Catalan Minister of Justice expressed their concern to the Spanish Prosecutor about the constant legal proceedings conducted by the State Prosecutor Office against anything linked to the independence process or the referendum. “We believe that judicial prosecution is the wrong way to address political issues” and that “insisting on the ‘judicialization’ of politics is, without a doubt, a mistake,” the Catalan minister added.

The Spanish General Prosecutor, however, chose to leave the Catalan Government building through a side door thereby avoiding making any declarations to the press. The State Prosecutor’s Office did release a press note shortly after the meeting in which it noted the “institutional nature” of the meeting and highlighted Maza’s comments to Puigdemont reminding him that the State Prosecutor will always “fulfill his duty as the law commands”. The press release also stated that “issues of judicial persecution” were not addressed in the meeting, referring indirectly to open cases such as the case against the Minister of Government, Meritxell Borras, for ordering ballot boxes or against members of the Catalan Parliament for voting on conclusions of debates on independence or on a unilateral referendum in the chamber.

Separation of powers in question

On the other hand, the Spanish General Prosecutor himself has lately been the subject of criticism in the Spanish Congress regarding the effective separation of powers. When asked by the political opposition if Maza received “any pressure” because of the investigations into the corruption scandals within the governing Popular Party, the Spanish General Prosecutor insisted that “the separation of powers works in Spain” and added that “one can notice that the separation of powers works” simply by “following the media”.

However, two Spanish journalists from the newspaper El Público, Patricia López and Carlos Enrique Bayo, denounced before an investigation committee in the Catalan Parliament the “complete lack of investigation by the Spanish General Prosecutor into the so-called ‘Operation Catalonia’, an alleged smear campaign against Catalan officials, conducted by the former Spanish Minister of Interior, José Fernández Díaz. The journalists had published in “El Público” recordings of an unofficial meeting in 2014 between Fernandez Díaz and the former head of Catalonia's antifraud office, in which they were “plotting to destroy Catalan officials” and trying “to stop the 9-N vote”, with completely “illegal means” that were “beyond the rule of law,” the journalists explained. 

Both journalists, who have investigated several recent cases of smear campaigns against “political rivals of the governing Partido Popular”, stressed that the “most serious problem of all” was the complete “lack of investigations into crimes like ‘Operation Catalonia’ by the Spanish Prosecutor”, even though their newspaper had “delivered audio and documentary evidence” to the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office. According to international law, the State Prosecutor was “obliged to open at least an investigation to determine if a crime could have been committed” which “has not happened to date,” the journalists confirmed. “In any democratic country nearby, this would be impossible, but in Spain it is possible,” they said.

 

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  • The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, and the Spanish General Prosecutor, José Manuel Maza (by Rafa Garrido)

  • The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, and the Spanish General Prosecutor, José Manuel Maza (by Rafa Garrido)