President asks for removal of judge considering his recusal request

Quim Torra's lawyers argue that high court judge has "close ties" with Catalan Socialists making outcome of disobedience case "predetermined"


Catalan president Quim Torra sitting in parliament (by Marta Sierra)
Catalan president Quim Torra sitting in parliament (by Marta Sierra) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 17, 2019 06:09 PM

President Quim Torra has demanded the removal of the judge considering his request asking for the recusal of two judges appointed to oversee his upcoming trial for disobedience, who stepped aside from the case last week while a decision is made.

Last week, Torra requested that Jesús María Barrientos and Mercedes Armas be removed from judging his case in which he is charged for not taking symbols supporting jailed Catalan leaders down from the government HQ due to a "glaring lack of impartiality."

Yet, the judge appointed to consider whether the two judges are fit to oversee the president's trial in Spain's high court in Catalonia (TSJC) is the same official, Carlos Ramos, who Torra argued should be recused in July, during the case's preliminary hearings.

Torra's lawyers argue that Ramos has a "direct or indirect interest" in the case, and that he also has "close ties" to the Catalan Socialists (PSC), the unionist party that originally nominated him in parliament for the position in the TSJC.

The lawyers also argue that PSC wants Torra to call a snap election in Catalonia, and they suspect that the outcome of the case is as good as "predetermined" as the Socialists aim to achieve their objective via the court.

Torra is to face trial on September 25 and 26, after Ramos decided to go ahead with his prosecution for the charge of disobedience brought by the public prosecutor after the Electoral Board accused the president of defying its orders during the election campaign.

Yellow ribbon row

In the run-up to the general election in April, Torra initially resisted the order to remove "partisan" yellow ribbon symbols in support of Catalan leaders charged over the 2017 independence bid from the government building during the campaign.

While Torra eventually complied with the order after the deadline, replacing the symbols with a banner promoting freedom of expression, the prosecutor decided to charge the president with disobedience, which could see him barred from holding public office.