European Court of Human Rights shelves case on former Catalan president for lack of response

Judge considers Artur Mas did not "want to continue" judicial case on human rights violation despite Spanish sentence for organizing 2014 independence referendum

Former Catalan president Artur Mas
Former Catalan president Artur Mas / Sílvia Jardí

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

May 16, 2024 11:29 AM

May 16, 2024 06:14 PM

The European Court of Human Rights shelved a judicial case from former Catalan president Artur Mas against Spain without studying it, as neither the politician nor his lawyer replied to a court's request.

The Court had requested the politician to provide more information on the case after Spain had given its opinion, but he did not reply. Judges again requested a response in early 2024, with February 12 as a deadline, but once again, they did not receive an answer.

After not receiving a response, the Strasbourg-based court considered that the former Catalan president "did not want to continue" with the judicial case on human rights violations and shelved the case.

A few hours after the case was dropped, Mas told the media that it was a "procedural misunderstanding."

"My defense says that these allegations procedure was not necessary and that we were not required to do it, but according to the court it seems that we did," he said.

Mas said it was "a pity" because if he had won, it would have been a "political and moral victory". He said, however, that the shelving did not set a precedent because the court did not look closely at the case.

Former Catalan president Artur Mas arrives in court (by ACN)
Former Catalan president Artur Mas arrives in court

Meanwhile, Mas' lawyer, renowned Catalan attorney Xavier Melero, admitted that he was surprised by the court's decision.

The defense had already presented allegations in the case, so when the allegations process was opened, they did not respond because they believed it was not necessary to expand them.

"My defense says that the allegations procedure was unnecessary and that we were not required to do it, but according to the court, it seems we had to. It is a misunderstanding," Mas said on Thursday afternoon.


Mas' lawyers are studying whether there was an error in the decision and if they can appeal it.

Disqualified from holding public office for 13 months

Mas filed a complaint in 2022 for his Spanish Constitutional Court disobedience sentence for his role in organizing the 2014 non-binding independence referendum on November 9.

The former leader was disqualified from holding public office for one year and one month because he did not follow the Constitutional Court's ruling that the vote was deemed illegal. He claimed that the Spanish judiciary system had violated his principle of legality and questioned if the acts were "penal."

Mas considered that the sentencing violated Article 7 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which states that "No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offense on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offense under national or international law at the time when it was committed."

2014 non-binding vote

Artur Mas and his government back then organized a non-binding independence referendum, which was deemed illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court.

Despite the warning, the vote went ahead, and in 2017, Catalonia's High Court ruled that Mas, among some of those found guilty, was sentenced to two years of disqualification from holding public office and to pay €36,000 in fines.

In 2019, the Spanish Supreme Court upheld the ruling but reduced the disqualification time to one year and one month, and in October 2021, the Constitutional Court upheld the Supreme Court's decision.