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Police arrest Mayor of Berga for refusing to take down pro-independence flag

Pro-independence radical left CUP’s Montse Venturós, Mayor of Berga, a small village 80 kilometres from Barcelona, has been arrested this Friday by the Catalan Police, the Mossos d’Esquadra. Venturós will now have to testify before the judge over an alleged electoral crime for refusing to take down pro-independence flags from the façade of the Town Hall on the 27th of September, the day of the Catalan Elections, and on the 20th of December, that of the Spanish Elections. Indeed, Venturós has twice refused to testify before the judge for the same case. CUP have already expressed their disapproval of the arrest and have called on members to demonstrate before Berga’s court in support of Venturós. Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, who has been lately accused of ‘disobedience’ for allowing the pro-independence roadmap to be put to vote in the Catalan Chamber, has also expressed her support for Venturós, via Twitter. “Neither the judicialisation of politics nor the court will impede that Catalans decide their future”, she said. For his part, the Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, stressed that “freedom of speech is not a crime”.

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04 November 2016 10:41 AM

by

ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- The police arrested this Friday Montse Venturós, Mayor of Berga, a small village 80 kilometres from Barcelona, for an alleged ‘electoral crime’. Pro-independence radical left CUP Venturós is accused of ignoring the Electoral Roll Office’s warrants and maintaining aloft the pro-independence flag which hung on the façade of the Town Hall on two election days: the 27-S Catalan Elections and the 20-D Spanish Elections. CUP have already expressed their opposition to the arrest and have called on members to demonstrate before Berga’s court in support of Venturós. In a similar vein, Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, who has been lately accused of ‘disobedience’ for allowing the pro-independence roadmap to be put to vote in the Catalan Chamber, also expressed her support to Venturós, via Twitter. “Neither the judicialisation of politics nor the court will stop Catalans that want to decide their future”, she said.  The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, stated that “freedom of speech is not a crime” and the Catalan Government spokeswoman, Neus Munté, also backed Venturós and regretted the “democratic deficit and the PP Government’s persecution” oft pro-independence forces.


The Catalan Police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, arrived at Venturós’ house this morning at around 8.00 CET and took her to Berga’s police station, where she is waiting to be brought before the judge. Venturós would have to testify for refusing to take down the Catalonia pro-independence flag, which adorned the façade of Berga’s Town Hall on two election days: the 27-S Catalan Elections and the 20-D Spanish Elections. Thus, she is accused of an alleged ‘electoral crime’ for ignoring the Electoral Roll Office’s warrants. Venturós has twice refused to testify before Berga’s court, on the 5th of April and the 17th of October. 

In an interview, the CUP MP and Venturós’ lawyer, Benet Salellas, criticised the Catalan Ministry for Home Affairs, which is responsible for the police. He accused the body of obeying an order from the Spanish justice which “is against Catalonia’s pro-independence process”. Salellas also expressed his disapproval of the arrest procedures. “Venturós was arrested while alone at home: the normal procedure would have been to do so during the day and in the Town Hall, so that everyone could see what was going on”, he explained.

Once before the court, Salellas said, Venturós will “explain the reason why she refused to take down the pro-independence flag” and will criticise an arrest which has “political motivations”. 

CUP members were the first to call for demonstrating before Berga’s court in support of Venturós. 

Catalan Government reacts to the arrest

The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, expressed this Friday his support for Venturós via Twitter and stressed that “freedom of speech is not a crime”. “My support goes out to Venturós and elected officials who are suffering persecution for their ideas”, Puigdemont added.  

The Catalan Government spokeswoman, Neus Munté, backed Venturós and all other “elected and institutional representatives facing the real problem: a democratic deficit and the PP Government’s persecution”.

“We will be free. They want us to be disciplined and submissive. But we will be free. They want us detained. But we will be free”, a spokeswoman from the CUP stated, while adding that “we all are Venturós”.

CUP members were the first to call for demonstrating before Berga’s court in support of Venturós. The arrest arrives a week ahead before a demonstration against the judicialisation of politics, organised by the pro-independence grassroots organisation ANC and scheduled for the 13th of November in Barcelona. 

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  • Berga's Mayor, Montse Venturós, in front of the facade of the City Hall (by ACN)

  • Berga's Mayor, Montse Venturós, in front of the facade of the City Hall (by ACN)