Protests against 9-N summonses: "Putting out the ballot boxes can't be considered a crime"
The first two public figures summonsed by Catalonia's Supreme Court for organising the 9-N symbolic vote on independence in 2014, Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau, and former vice-president Joana Ortega, have appeared before the court today. Outside Barcelona Courthouse, around 500 citizens, brought together by civil society associations such as pro-independence Catalan National Assembly, showed their support for both of the summonsed and openly expressed their opposition to Catalonia's Supreme Court's decision, which has been regarded as a political judgment against Catalonia's right to decide its political future. Members of pro-independence unitary list 'Junts Pel Sí', liberal party CDC, left wing pro-independence party ERC, radical left CUP, Christian-democrat 'Unió' and alternative left coalition 'Catalunya Sí que es Pot' also took part in the protests, which are considered "a direct attack on justice's independence" by Catalonia's Supreme Court.
Barcelona (CNA).- By around 9 am this morning, hundreds of citizens had already assembled in the surroundings of Barcelona's Courthouse to support the first two public figures summonsed by Catalonia's Supreme Court for organising the 9-N symbolic vote in 2014. Today it was the turn of Catalan Minister for Education Irene Rigau and former vice-president Joana Ortega. Civil society associations, such as pro-independence Catalan National Assembly, called for citizens to express opposition to what has been regarded as a political judgment against Catalonia's push for independence and President Mas, who has also been called to court. Members of pro-independence unitary list 'Junts Pel Sí',liberal party CDC, left wing pro-independence party ERC, radical left CUP, Christian-democrat 'Unió' and alternative left coalition 'Catalunya Sí que es Pot' have openly showed their opposition to the summons, declaring that “putting the ballot boxes out can't be considered a crime".Catalonia's Supreme Court stated in a communicate that these protests were "a direct attack on justice's independence".
Rigau arrived at Barcelona's Courthouse this morning to give testimony for organising the 9-N symbolic vote, which has been regarded as a crime by Catalonia's Supreme Court (TSJC). All the members of the Catalan government were waiting for her, except for current President Artur Mas who will have to appear before the court this Thursday, and accompanied her to the Court's entrance. Together with the MPs, members of pro-independence unitary list 'Junts Pel Sí', liberal party CDC, left wing pro-independence party ERC, radical left CUP, Christian-democrat 'Unió' and alternative left coalition 'Catalunya Sí que es Pot' have openly showed their opposition to the summons, declaring that "putting the ballot boxes out can't be considered a crime".
Irene Rigau: "I declared with a clear conscience"
"I didn't commit any crime" stated Catalan Minister for Education right after her testimony before the Court "I declared with a clear conscience". She stated before the judge that neither she nor any of the members of her department gave "any order to the high schools directors to open the centres for the 9-N consultation" and assured that "Catalonia's Statute of Autonomy allowed the consultation".
Joana Ortega: "I'm not aware of having disobeyed"
Former vice-president Joana Ortega was called to court for being in charge of the 9-N's logistics and press conferences. "I'm not aware of having disobeyed the Spanish Constitutional Court" said Ortega "and I didn't commit any economic irregularity" she added. "It is nonsense to criminalise democratic and pacific actions" she stated. "Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy himself assured that the 9-N wasn't a referendum nor even a consultation and that it didn't have any legal effect" and emphasised that the 9-N was both the Government's and her own commitment. "If I informed about the developing and the results of the consultation it is because I understood it was the Government's duty to inform the citizens about a very relevant fact from a historic perspective" she concluded.
Catalan MPs showed their support to the summonsed
'Junts Pel Sí' lead member, former MEP Raül Romeva, described it as "unacceptable incomprehensible and intolerable" to call somebody to court for "asking for democracy and listening to citizens". "We all feel absolutely summonsed" he concluded, referring to all those who supported and took part in 9-N consultation. "This is a really grave, unprecedented situation in the European democracies" said liberal party CDC's coordinator Josep Rull, "those who think that democracy can be stopped by the Penal Code are absolutely wrong, as democracy is beyond these questions; the only owner of Catalonia's sovereignty is Catalan society" he added.
"Now it's time to support those who, in the name of all of us, wanted to preserve democracy" stated left wing pro-independence ERC's general secretary Marta Rovira, "in a Rule of Law State, the ballots would never go to the Court and democracy will never be tried" she concluded.
Radical left pro-independence CUP's leader, Antonio Baños, specified that his party doesn't support an actual person but is "side by side with the institutions". "To put the ballot boxes and to vote will never be a crime, and if so, we are all guilty, the 2 million voters incriminate ourselves" he added.
"Political problems must have political solutions" stated former Catalan Minister for Home Affairs and Christian Democrat 'Unió's leader Ramon Espadaler and assured that "what is needed now is to support Rigau, Ortega and Mas" called to court "simply for putting the ballot boxes”.
TSJC: The protests "are a direct attack on justice's independence"
Catalonia's Supreme Court (TSJC) stated Thursday that "it is unacceptable" that members of the Government lead "demonstrations" outside Barcelona's Courthouse. "The independence of justice is not a privilege from the judges but a guarantee for citizens" stated the TSJC in a communicate and added that its power "requires society's trust, where its legitimation lies". Therefore, the Court considered the protests against the TSJC's decisions "a direct attack on justice's independence" and feel they "cast serious doubts on essential elements of the Constitutional state".