President Torra in yellow ribbon case: 'I disobeyed'

In audio of his testimony before high court, Quim Torra admits to disobedience citing "higher public mandate" to defend freedom of expression

President Quim Torra on stage during the “Our Moment” act in September 2018. (Photo: Núria Julià)
President Quim Torra on stage during the “Our Moment” act in September 2018. (Photo: Núria Julià) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 4, 2019 07:18 PM

President Quim Torra admitted that he disobeyed orders from Spain's electoral authority when he appeared before Catalonia's high court in mid-May.

In audio of his testimony that the TV3 television channel has access to, Torra told the court: "Yes, I disobeyed, because I owe a debt to a higher public mandate to defend human rights."

In the run-up to the Spanish general election in April, Torra refused to comply with an order to remove yellow ribbon symbols from the front of his government's headquarters.

The authority ruled the symbol in support of jailed and exiled independence leaders to be "partisan," while Torra argued the order infringed the right to freedom of expression. 

Although he finally complied with the order, Torra at first refused to remove the symbol from the public building, promptly restoring it once the election period was over. 

Yet, the authority accused him of disobedience after complaints from the unionist Cs and PP parties, which Torra suggested had mounted an operation to see him put on trial.

Despite his arguments, last month the high court decided not to dismiss the suit against him, meaning the case could now go to trial with Torra facing a potential ban from public office.

Supreme Court rejects Puigdemont's immunity request

Meanwhile, Spain's Supreme Court has turned down the request by former president Carles Puigdemont to be part of its query sent to the EU's Court of Justice on the immunity of jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras.

The high court chose to ask the European court for advice on the extent of parliamentary immunity the former vice president enjoys after being elected an MEP in May's EU election.

Puigdemont and former minister Toni Comín were also elected to the EU chamber but have also been unable to take up their seats, leading them to ask to be included in the Supreme Court's query.

With the two men in exile and Junqueras in prison, none of the three MEPs-elect could complete the accreditation process in Madrid, with their seats declared vacant, and their names not included on the list of Spanish MEPs sent to Brussels.