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Foreign minister in the dock for his role in 2017 referendum as mayor

Bernat Solé tried by the Catalan high court, with prosecutor requesting disqualification for having disobeyed Constitutional Court

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14 December 2020 10:48 AM

by

ACN | Barcelona

The Catalan foreign minister, Bernat Solé, faced trial on Monday for his role in the 2017 referendum as the mayor of Agramunt at the time, a village in western Catalonia.

The government member sat in the dock at the Catalan high court with the public prosecutor requesting a 1.5-year disqualification for having disobeyed the Constitutional Court and helping the referendum take place in his village.

The attorney general also requests a fine of €24,000.

If Solé were to be disqualified, he would be ousted as foreign minister – yet, the Catalan high court's sentences are not final, he could avoid losing his position by filing an appeal before the Supreme Court who would ultimately decide his fate.

On Monday morning, Solé was supported by a number of representatives of the pro-independence parties, institutions and entities outside the court.

Cross-examination in court

During the session, he stated that he did not take part in the organization of the vote in Agramunt. He did admit to having taken part in a debate on the referendum in his village, but as a political representative and not as mayor. 

He also said that he did not grant access to the school for the vote, but he did try to avoid damages to the educational center by Spain's Guardia Civil police trying to persuade the vote organizers to not hide the ballot boxes inside the building. 

Referendum not allowed by Spain

The then-Catalan governement, led by Carles Puigdemont, held an independence vote on October 1, 2017 although Spain's government and courts prohibited it. 

As a result, a number of judicial cases were launched, including that of the then-cabinet members and leading activists, which ended in nine individuals sentenced to between 9 and 13 years behind bars.

While other government members exiled and remained untried, several others had cases opened and some already close stemming from the 2017 independence push, affecting the police leadership, high-ranking officials, businesspeople activists and mayor such as Solé in 2017.

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  • The Catalan foreign minister, Bernat Solé, waving at his supporters outside the Catalan high court on December 14, 2020 (by Marta Sierra)

  • The Catalan foreign minister, Bernat Solé, waving at his supporters outside the Catalan high court on December 14, 2020 (by Marta Sierra)

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