Catalan leaders sentenced over independence vote say fundamental rights violated
The sentences regarding the November 9th, 2014 vote on independence, including hefty fines and a ban from public office of the main political leaders responsible, may violate fundamental rights say the lawyers of former Catalan President, Artur Mas, Catalan VP Joana Ortega and former Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau. They have appealed to Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC). Last week, Mas was sentenced to a two-year ban from holding public office and fined €36,500 for allowing the non-binding consultation to take place in 2014. Ortega and Rigau were also banned from taking public office for a period of 1 year and 9 months and 1 year and 6 months and fined €30,000 and €24,000, respectively.
Barcelona (CNA).- Former Catalan President, Artur Mas, together with former Catalan VP Joana Ortega and former Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau, took the first steps to appeal the sentence stemming from the vote on independence, November 9, 2014. Last week, Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) found them guilty of disobedience and fined and banned them from public office for allowing the non-binding consultation to take place. The lawyers of Mas, Ortega and Rigau claimed before the TSJC that the sentence “violates” several fundamental rights, such as that of equality before the law, freedom of ideology and speech and the right of the citizens to freely participate in public matters. After the sentence was made public, Mas announced that he will follow the required procedures to appeal “all the way to the European justice system if necessary”.
The TSJC considered that Mas, Ortega and Rigau disobeyed the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) and ignored its warnings by allowing the independence vote to take place. The verdict didn’t satisfy the Public Prosecutor either, who had also accused the former Catalan leaders of perversion of justice.
Besides denying the accusations of disobedience, the appeal presented by Mas’ lawyer, Xavier Melero, that of Ortega, Rafael Entrena, and Rigau’s representative, Jordi Pina, claim that the TSJC sentence “violates” several fundamental rights. The defendants named the right of equality before the law, freedom of ideology and speech and the right of citizens to freely participate in public matters as some of the rights which are not respected by the TSJC.
The appeal also claims that Ortega’s presumption of innocence and the right to be put on a trial with guarantees were also violated.
Appeal to the European Justice
Once the sentence was made public, Mas, Ortega and Rigau addressed the press and explained their disconformity. “We have nothing to regret. We are democrats and therefore our main duty is to obey the mandate of the people and act accordingly,” said Mas as he announced that they would appeal the sentence “all the way to the European justice system if necessary”. A procedure, he said, that “will have to start with the Spanish Supreme Court first and then go through the Spanish Constitutional Court”. However, he admitted having “little faith” in the Spanish justice system, since it has been proven that “the law is not the same for everybody”.