Speaker to launch lawsuit against Spanish judge for blocking Sànchez bid

Head of Catalan chamber adjourns session to swear in jailed MP amid criticism of court decision

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent (by ACN)
Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 12, 2018 06:18 PM

The Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent reacted to the Spanish Supreme Court’s blocking of Jordi Sànchez’s presidential bid by adjourning the investiture debate and delivering on his promise of a bold response should the jailed Sànchez be denied permission to attend the chamber: he will now launch a lawsuit against the Supreme Court judge for perversion of justice, Catalan News has learnt. 

Torrent had called the session to elect a president for Friday, with Sànchez confirmed as the candidate. However, the jailed MP was forced to appeal to the Supreme Court judge handling his case for permission to attend the session, either in person or by video link. That appeal was denied on Thursday, despite the UN Committee on Human Rights urging Spain to respect Sanchez’s political rights after his first attempt to take office was blocked by the courts in March.

On Friday, instead of the investiture debate, the speaker will now head a meeting of the parliament bureau to discuss the details of the lawsuit against Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena, who is overseeing the charge of sedition against Sànchez. In a statement on Thursday, Torrent said he had made the decision to postpone the investiture debate “despite the resolution by the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations that obliges the State to guarantee the political rights” of Sànchez.

Carles Puigdemont, the deposed Catalan president whose own presidential bid was blocked by the court, was quick to respond to the news, saying Llarena’s decision caused “immense” damage to democracy. Tweeting from Berlin, Puigdemont wrote: “They do not respect the election result. They do not respect the parliamentary majority. They do not respect the United Nations. The damage to democracy is immense.”

CUP calls for a new Puigdemont bid

In fact, the far-left pro-independence CUP party reacted by calling for Puigdemont to once again be put forward as presidential candidate as “the MP with the most support in parliament.” Warning about giving in to the Spanish authorities, a CUP spokeswoman said her party was in favor of going ahead with Friday’s session despite the judge’s decision and she called for an immediate meeting between all the pro-independence parties.

Spain "swapping the army for judges," says JxCat

A spokeswoman for one of those parties, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), for which Sànchez was a candidate in the December election, reacted to the news by accusing the Spanish authorities of “swapping the army for judges.” The spokeswoman also claimed that Sànchez “cannot be president because he is an MP for JxCat, and that representatives were being split into two groups: “Those eligible to be presidents and those who go to prison without trial.”

ERC: "New violation by Supreme Court"

As for the JxCat party ally Esquerra Republicana (ERC), its spokesman called on the pro-independence camp to provide a joint response to the Supreme Court decision so as to “effectively recover the institutions and form a government.” The spokesman refused to be drawn on whether his party would support another attempt to swear in Puigdemont. “Today what matters is to condemn what has happened and the new violation and interference by the Supreme Court; and that is what we should be concerned with,” he said.

C’s: Pro-independence forces “have no plan, no candidate, they have nothing”

The unionist Ciutadans party (C’s) spoke before the press following the news, to announce that they, in turn, plan to file a lawsuit against that of Torrent. Their spokesperson criticized pro-independence forces by insisting that “they just want to continue with the mess.” He further claimed that the situation “shows very clearly” that “they forces have no project, they have no plan, they have no candidate, they have nothing.” “Is it possible they have no viable candidate?” the spokesperson asked, adding that the parties in favor of a Catalan state “don’t want to govern.” Regards Torrent’s lawsuit, C’s deemed it as an “illegitimate use of public funds” which “can be pursued legally.” As a reaction, he vowed C’s would do “everything possible” to fight it.