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Judges decide not to take away ballot boxes after complaints against the independence vote

In addition, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, responded to the Public Prosecutor Office's warnings by stating that he is the person responsible for opening the polling stations. Besides, three judges from Barcelona, Badalona and Tarragona decided to reject the petitions of taking away the participatory process' ballot boxes for "not being proportional". On November 9, in the middle of the participatory process, there were still some judicial actions on-going that were trying to stop Catalans from voting. The first group of actions were those carried out by the Public Prosecutor Office – whose head is directly appointed by the Spanish Government, which threatened to identify volunteers and which has already obtained a detailed list of voting centres. The second group were the complaints filed by Spanish nationalist parties and some private citizens. Populist UPyD and extreme-right parties PxC and Falange filed complaints on Saturday, asking for the ballot boxes to be removed.

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09 November 2014 07:41 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- In addition, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, responded to the Public Prosecutor Office's warnings by stating that "if they are looking for the people responsible for opening the polling stations, they only have to look at me; those responsible are myself and my government". In addition, three judges from Barcelona, Badalona and Tarragona decided on Sunday afternoon to reject the petitions requesting the removal of  the participatory process' ballot boxes because it was a "disproportionate" decision. The judge from Barcelona argued that the Constitutional Court's decisions have to be honoured by everybody but it is this Court that has to explicitly ask ordinary Courts to help them make sure the decisions are respected. Since the Constitutional Court has not sent such a request, the measure of deciding to interrupt the participatory process in "an urgent way" seems "disproportionate", he argued. Furthermore, the judge added that those authorising the vote to take place, such as the Catalan President, are particularly protected by law and can only be prosecuted by high courts and not ordinary ones. The Public Prosecution Office backed the judges' decision. The Spanish nationalist and populist party UPyD announced they will appeal against this decision, as they cannot understand why the complaint has been taken into consideration while at the same time the judge has not ordered the removal of the ballot boxes as a precautionary measure.


On November 9, after the participatory process had already started, there were still some judicial actions on-going trying to stop Catalans from voting. In fact, some complaints were filed after the opening of polling stations. The first group of actions were those carried out by the Public Prosecutor Office – whose head is directly appointed by the Spanish Government, which had threatened to identify volunteers on Saturday. The Public Prosecutor Office asked Catalan Police for a detailed list of the polling stations and the identification of those responsible for opening the voting centres. After Artur Mas cast his vote, he told the Public Prosecutor that if they are looking for the people responsible for opening the polling stations, they only have to look at me; those responsible are me and my government". In fact, the Mossos d'Esquadra police force – which is managed by the Catalan Government – did not identify volunteers and had a discrete presence near the polling stations. On Saturday evening, the Catalan Government had already stated that volunteers had no responsibility in the decision to open the voting centres, which had been authorised by the Government itself. Besides, on Sunday afternoon the Catalan Police responded to the request from the Public Prosecutor Office and handed in the detailed list of the voting centres, but not the identification of volunteers.

In addition, the second group of judicial issues were the complaints filed by Spanish nationalist parties and some private citizens. Populist party UPyD and extreme-right parties PxC and Falange filed complaints on Sunday, asking for the ballot boxes to be removed. A councillor from the People's Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – also filed a complaint on Sunday. In addition, on the day before, the main pro-Spanish unity platform Societat Civil Catalana did the same thing. The judges on-call from Barcelona, Badalona (Greater Barcelona) and Tarragona decided not to take away the ballot boxes, in line with the opinion of the Public Prosecution Office. Their main argument was that the Constitutional Court, which had suspended the participatory process, should have requested assistance from ordinary courts to stop the vote from happening, and they did not. They considered that to have been "out of proportion" for an ordinary court to have ordered the removal of the ballot boxes "in an urgent way".

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  • Court building in Barcelona (by P. Solà)

  • Court building in Barcelona (by P. Solà)