Lawyers defend ‘professionalism’ amid controversy over not publishing passed resolutions

Torra calls for resignation of Parliament general-secretary, while unionist parties demand end to “threats”

Parliament lawyer Joan Ridao and secretary-general of the chamber, Xavier Muro (by Marta Sierra)
Parliament lawyer Joan Ridao and secretary-general of the chamber, Xavier Muro (by Marta Sierra) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 13, 2020 11:41 AM

The lawyers of the Catalan Parliament sent a letter to the Bureau of the Chamber on Wednesday in which they express their support for the secretary-general of the Parliament, Xavier Muro, after he chose to not publish some of the resolutions passed by MPs in the chamber’s official gazette. 

Monday’s edition of the gazette, which makes passed resolutions official, left out some of the texts approved in Friday’s extraordinary plenary session to debate the Spanish monarchy, called in the wake of the former king abandoning Spain amid a string of corruption allegations in order to protect the image of his son.

Last Friday, the Catalan parliament voted on and passed a number of resolutions which underlined the will of the Parliament to “overcome this monarchical regime” and reiterated the pro-independence bloc’s stance for a Catalan Republic. The texts omitted also referred to the "delinquent corrupt monarchy" and “illegal enrichment” of the Spanish royal family. 

After warnings from the Constitutional Court, the secretary-general of the Parliament, Xavier Muro, left the texts out of Monday's publication of the official gazette, provoking anger from Catalan president Quim Torra and the Junts per Catalunya party, who called for Muro’s resignation. 

The board of lawyers of the chamber says Muro acted "with complete independence and professionalism" and recalled that he has the order not to "perform legal or material acts" that contradict the Constitutional Court. 

The letter, to which the Catalan News Agency has had access, also emphasizes that the Parliament's legal services are made up of independent civil servants "with objectivity in the exercise of their functions" and that they must conform to the legality and court rulings. 

On Thursday, the Parliamentary Staff Council defended the "objectivity, integrity, neutrality, responsibility, impartiality, and confidentiality" with which all chamber officials work and has rejected "any pressure" placed on them. 

Torra and JxCat call for resignation

Earlier in the week, president of the Catalan government, Quim Torra, asked the Parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, for the resignation of the secretary-general of the chamber, Xavier Muro, and reiterated calls for the publication of the resolutions that had been left out of Monday's official Parliament gazette.

For Torra, Xavier Muro has "the duty to obey the plenary" and if he does not, he has pointed out that Torrent "has the duty to stop him." 

With a message on Twitter, the Catalan president also called on Roger Torrent and the Parliament Bureau to "take responsibility" for publishing the resolutions, which were left out so as to not contravene the Constitutional Court after warnings issued. 

The Junts per Catalunya parliamentary group has sent a letter in the Parliament's register calling on Roger Torrent and the Bureau to publish the resolutions "in full" adopted during the debate on the monarchy. 

“Everything that is silenced is an anomaly and we are not here to amplify the repression of [the removal of Catalonia’s self-governance] but to defend democracy," the group's spokesman, Eduard Pujol, said. 

Unionists demand end to "threats"

Unionist parties have come to the defense of Muro and the lawyers obeying the Constitutional Court, with the Socialist MP Alícia Romero on Wednesday expressing "full support" from her party.

“We need to dignify the institutions while respecting the separation of powers and the law,” Romero said on Twitter.

People’s Party figurehead Daniel Serrano also gave his support for Muro on Thursday. 

For Serrano, Muro "has proven to have more dignity than Torra by complying with the law." The MP has demanded an end to the "threats" and that "the professional and independent work of lawyers" be respected.

Omitted resolutions

A joint resolution presented by JxCat, ERC, and CUP that underlines the will of the Parliament to "overcome this monarchical regime” and “effectively constitute the Catalan republic as a state of law” was not published, nor was the mention of the "delinquent corrupt monarchy," is one of the passed motions that was not published in the chamber's gazette. 

Another section left out is one that had been presented by ERC that accuses the current king Felipe VI of having participated “with the other powers of the Spanish state in the repression of rights of the Catalan people." 

Also left out of the gazette is the text by the far-left CUP party that reproaches the king "for decades of impunity and illegitimate enrichment" and point to the monarchy as "a mainstay for the persecution of the rights of the Catalan people and against the construction of the Catalan republic."

Investigation into former king

Juan Carlos I is under investigation by the Supreme Court for allegedly receiving commissions in exchange for interceding that a Spanish consortium won a contract to build a high-speed train link to the city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

While the Spanish constitution states that a king cannot be judged by any means, Juan Carlos’ abdication in favor of his son, Felipe VI, in June 2014 apparently put an end to his immunity.

On March 14, British newspaper The Telegraph published revelations that Felipe was named as a beneficiary for an offshore fund allegedly containing 65 million euros. The next day, the king relinquished his father’s legacy and withdrew his allocation from the royal family’s payroll.

In May, media in Spain reported that Juan Carlos I was given 1.7 million euros in cash by Bahrain's sultan, Hamad bin Isa al Jalifa, in 2010.

In July, Spanish president Pedro Sánchez said he was open to an amendment of the constitution to limit the legal immunity of public officials, including the king.

As the corruption-ridden legacy of king emeritus Juan Carlos I continues to haunt the Spanish monarchy, calls to strip the crown of its constitutional inviolability have grown louder.

Also in July, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau called the monarchy "corrupt" and called for a referendum to remove the monarchy and install a Republic.