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Prosecutor asks for 3-year prison sentence for Puigdemont advisor's New Caledonia trip

Josep Lluís Alay accused of misusing public funds to support 2018 independence referendum in Pacific archipelago 

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10 November 2021 05:21 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

The public prosecution is asking for a three-year prison sentence and a 17-year disqualification for Josep Lluís Alay, one of former president Carles Puigdemont's chief advisors.

Prosecutors accuse Alay of misuse of public funds and embezzlement over a trip in November 2018 to attend a referendum in New Caledonia on full independence from France.

According to Barcelona High Court and the prosecution, Alay was invited to the archipelago in the southwest Pacific "in a personal capacity" for the referendum, and it was not appropriate for the Catalan government to bear the cost. A date for trial has yet to be decided, but the court has asked Alay to pay €4,732, equivalent to the cost of the plane tickets plus other allowances, which will be returned if he is found not guilty.

According to the prosecutor's office, Alay "abused" his position and "exceeded the functions and activities he had been assigned." They claim he "deviated from his obligation to serve the general interests of the public administration."

The trip to New Caledonia came about after Alay received an email from the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front. According to the prosecution, the email invited him to promote the French territory's independence referendum "in a personal capacity and representing the Catalan independence movement."

Alay purchased his flights with an official bank card, an expense that was authorized. After the trip he presented receipts to claim €337 of expenses for meals, tolls and a seat reservation on the return flight.

Alay's defense team, on the other hand, argues that he was not in control of the finances – that responsibility rests with third parties not involved in the court case – and say that their client acted "in accordance with the role that he held and in a manner that was faithful to what had been entrusted to him."

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  • Josep Lluís Alay (left) with his lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, arriving at court on June 4, 2018 (by Tània Tàpia)

  • Josep Lluís Alay (left) with his lawyer, Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, arriving at court on June 4, 2018 (by Tània Tàpia)

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