Public prosecutor appeals former parliament bureau members' acquittal on disobedience charges

High Court found politicians not guilty for allowing chamber to vote on monarchy and self-determination

Former parliament speaker Roger Torrent smiles upon hearing the verdict of the Catalan High Court on November 23
Former parliament speaker Roger Torrent smiles upon hearing the verdict of the Catalan High Court on November 23 / Mariona Puig
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

November 29, 2022 12:10 PM

November 29, 2022 01:46 PM

Catalonia’s public prosecutor's office has lodged an appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court against the acquittal of former parliament bureau members.

The Catalan High Court found former speaker Roger Torrent, along with Josep Costa, Eusebi Campdepadrós and Adriana Delgado, not guilty of disobedience last Wednesday, November 23.

They were accused of disobeying the Constitutional Court by going ahead with parliamentary debates and resolutions on self-determination and against the monarchy in autumn 2019. 

The prosecution had requested fines of €30,000 and 20-month disqualifications from public office for Torrent, Costa and Campdepadrós, and a €24,000 fine and a 16-month ban for Delgado.

The prosecutor’s reasons for appealing the High Court decision are: infringement of a constitutional precept, infringement of the law and infringement of an essential procedural requirement.

The latter refers to the prosecutor’s pretrial request that the hearing be suspended until another case over the recursal of the High Court president, Jesús María Barrientos, was resolved.

Barrientos was not involved in the parliament bureau members' trial as the pro-independence politicians claimed he would not be impartial. The judge walked out of a Bar Association of Barcelona event in 2018 when Torrent referred to the jailed pro-independence leaders as “political prisoners”.

The prosecutor appealed the decision to exclude Barrientos from the case but this was not resolved before the parliament bureau members' trial went ahead.

Given that Torrent and his former colleagues were found not guilty by two judges’ votes to one, any change in the makeup of the magistrates could have had a material effect on the outcome.

High court ruling: 2v1

According to the ruling last week, the members of the parliament bureau who were tried on October 5, 6 and 7 were found not to have committed the crime of disobedience because there was "a lack of a clear and specific mandate" in the Constitutional Court's rulings of October 2019. 

Two out of three of the Catalan High Court judges considered that those rulings – warnings against going ahead with parliamentary debates and votes on the monarchy and self-determination – left room for "more than one interpretation." 

The two-thirds majority of magistrates also believe that it has not been proven that the accused had knowledge of and wanted to disobey the Constitutional Court rulings. 

In fact, they understand that the four defendants followed the instructions of the parliament secretary general of parliament and attorney general, positions that are not political, and note that the resolutions and votes in parliament on self-determination were "mere political proclamations about the future," but without the intention of further action. 

In contrast, one of the three judges believed that the conduct of the defendants, in their capacity as members of the bureau and public officials, "can be described, without a doubt, as manifestly stubborn, obstinate, recalcitrant and persistent," and contrary to the Constitutional Court rulings. She also said that these "can in no way be accepted as being classified as vague or imprecise."