'Spanish sovereignty not negotiable,' Rajoy tells Supreme Court
In his testimony, Spain's president during the 2017 independence bid says “there was never anything to discuss" regarding the referendum
"I negotiate neither the compliance with the law, the Spanish constitution, nor Spain's sovereignty," former Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, told Spain's Supreme Court on Wednesday, where he testified in the trial of the Catalan independence leaders.
Rajoy was head of the Spanish government during the 2017 constitutional crisis, and it was his cabinet that enforced direct rule in Catalonia hours after the Catalan Parliament declared independence on October 27, 2017.
"I’ve always been willing to establish dialogue," said Rajoy, adding: "I met six times with Artur Mas while we were presidents, as well as with Puigdemont." Yet, the former president insisted that regarding the independence referendum “there was never anything to discuss."
"Spain is what Spaniards decide, and not what some Spaniards decide," said Rajoy, adding that "I made clear I would not authorize an independence referendum [in all meetings with Catalan officials]."
"If they hadn't called on people to vote in an illegal referendum, none of us would be here today, and people and police officers wouldn't have been injured"
Cristóbal Montoro · Former Spanish finance minister
“Any person who’s minimally rigorous knows that [what was happening in Catalonia during the independence bid] was abnormal and improper in an advanced democracy,” said the former Spanish president.
"Clashes" on October 1 "normal," says Rajoy
Meanwhile, referring to the independence referendum held in Catalonia on October 1, 2017 that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts, Rajoy said "clashes" during the vote "were normal" considering the situation.
On the day of the unilateral referendum over a thousand voters were injured due to the hardline tactics adopted by the Spanish police, many of whom were drafted into Catalonia to close down polling stations and confiscate ballot boxes.
"If they hadn't called on people to vote in an illegal referendum or made decisions in breach of Spanish laws, none of us would be here today, and people and police officers wouldn't have been injured," said the former president about the clashes.
No decision on police operation
Rajoy did not clarify who in his government ordered the police to charge voters on October 1 but did deny any personal involvement: "I’ve never made any decision regarding any police operation. Even when I was the interior minister," he said.
Shown footage in court of the Spanish police's rough handling of voters, Rajoy said: “I deplore this footage. I don’t like it. The responsibility of politicians is preventing these kinds of situations,” he said.
The former president also denied that he received any calls on referendum day telling him to call off the Spanish police from charging voters, thus ruling out some claims that international leaders had intervened in the conflict.