Majority of MPs celebrate acquittal of Torrent and other parliament bureau members

ERC, Junts, CUP, and En Comú Podem lawmakers were joined by some Socialists in applauding absolved former speaker

Catalan ministers and MPs applaud former parliament speaker Roger Torrent upon finding out he was absolved of wrongdoing in his disobedience trial
Catalan ministers and MPs applaud former parliament speaker Roger Torrent upon finding out he was absolved of wrongdoing in his disobedience trial / Mariona Puig
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

November 23, 2022 12:10 PM

November 23, 2022 02:47 PM

Roger Torrent, the current business minister in the Catalan government, discovered the result of his disobedience trial in the middle of a parliamentary plenary session. 

The former parliament speaker couldn't hide his delight upon finding out that the Catalan High Court acquitted him and his pro-independence colleagues of disobedience for allowing votes against the monarchy and in favor of self-determination in the chamber. 

The majority of MPs in the chamber celebrated the news as it came in, as members of Torrent's own party ERC were joined by lawmakers of fellow pro-independence Junts and CUP as well as left-wing pro-referendum En Comú Podem in applauding the former speaker.

Some members of the Socialists also applauded, including the group's spokesperson, Alicia Romero. 

"It is great news for freedom of expression and the right of initiative of MPs," said Torrent in a tweet. Speaking in the chamber, the business minister added that the Catalan parliament "must have the autonomy to talk about everything that interests citizens, including self-determination and the monarchy."

Catalan president Pere Aragonès added his voice to the communal "joy" of the pro-independence politicians. "Talking about self-determination and the monarchy is not a crime," Aragonès said in the chamber, adding that "neither was the 2017 independence referendum."

In response to a question from the People's Party, Aragonés added that he is "convinced" that the judicial battle against the leaders of the referendum will also be won.

Acting speaking Alba Vergés hailed the Catalan chamber as a "bastion of rights" and reiterated that it is "essential to stop the judicialization of politics." 

The concept of the de-judicialization of politics has emerged from talks between the Catalan and Spanish governments as part of the negotiation table aimed at resolving the political conflict between the territories. The recently announced plan to reform the law of sedition has been one the biggest results of these talks. 

Spokesperson for Junts per Catalunya in the chamber, Albert Batet, said that they are happy about the decision of the magistrates, but he added that the bureau members should "never have been put on trial for talking about the corrupt Spanish monarchy" in the first place. 

Anti-monarchy and self-determination motions

Torrent and the others were accused of allegedly contravening Spain’s Constitutional Court and authorizing votes on motions in the parliament that were deemed unlawful. 

The motions were passed on November 12, 2019, with subsequent amendments on November 26. They were backed by pro-independence parties, holding a majority of seats in the chamber.

One of the texts stressed that parliament "reiterates and will reiterate as many times as MPs choose the disapproval of the monarchy, the defense of self-determination and the affirmation of the sovereignty of the people of Catalonia to decide their political future."

The second one saw the chamber accusing Spain's Constitutional Court of "censorship" on self-determination and criticism of monarchy discussions.

During the debate on the second motion, unionist Ciutadans announced that their party would take the passed motion to the prosecutor's office. "You are the champions of disobedience," said the then-leader of the party, Lorena Roldán.

In November 2019, the Constitutional Court had already partly suspended the motion, warning the parliament and the members of its bureau, who at the time were under speaker Roger Torrent, of the criminal consequences of not complying with its rulings.

"The judicial system is more worried about going after freedoms than to guarantee them," Torrent tweeted after it was announced in March 2022 that he and his colleagues would face trial.

If the four had have been found guilty of disobedience, they would have joined a long list of Catalan officials sacked for their role in the independence push, including former president Quim Torra and members of the cabinet that called a referendum and attempted to break away from Spain in 2017.