Upheaval in Spain’s Public Prosecution Office over the complaint against Catalan President
The public prosecutors based in Catalonia refused to back their Madrid-based boss regarding the complaint against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and other members of his cabinet for authorising November 9’s symbolic vote on independence. According to them, there are not enough legal reasons for filing such a complaint, despite the pressures from Spanish nationalists to do so. The Director of Spain’s Public Prosecution Office, Eduardo Torres-Dulce – who is directly appointed by the Spanish Government – had unsuccessfully been trying to obtain the explicit support from his Catalan team. However, Torres-Dulce is likely to follow through with it anyway, after several members of the Spanish Government, the People’s Party (PP) and other Spanish nationalist parties urged him to do so. In any case, the Catalan prosecutors’ rebellion will not provoke a schism in this hierarchical institution, since on Tuesday afternoon they confirmed they will obey Torres-Dulce if he insists. The Catalan Government and political parties based in Barcelona warned that Madrid’s pressures seriously damage the separation of powers. Meanwhile, the PP accused Catalan prosecutors of being “contaminated by the atmosphere” of “radical secessionism”.
Barcelona (ACN).- The public prosecutors based in Catalonia refused to back their Madrid-based boss regarding the complaint against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and other members of his cabinet for authorising the symbolic vote on independence that took place on November 9. As they said on Monday evening, there are not enough legal reasons for filing such a complaint, despite the enormous pressure from Spanish nationalists to do so. In fact, on Tuesday the Catalan Government accused the Spanish Executive and the People’s Party of pressuring the Public Prosecution Office, whose Director is appointed by the Spanish Government and who directly reports to the Spanish Minister of Justice. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, stated that such pressure seriously “damages the separation of powers” in Spain and “the rule of law”. Meanwhile, the PP’s ‘number 3’, Carlos Floriano, accused the Catalonia-based prosecutors of being “contaminated by the atmosphere” of “radical secessionism” and another PP spokesperson was certain that Torres-Dulce “will honour his duty” and file the complaint.
In the last few days and after an initial controversy over the possibility of filing such a complaint, the Director of Spain’s Public Prosecution Office, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, had been unsuccessfully trying to obtain the explicit support from his Catalan team to carry out a judicial action that has deep political implications. In addition, there were serious doubts that such a process would be finally launched. A judicial complaint against the President of Catalonia from one of the Spanish State’s main institutions would take the current conflict one step higher and could provoke a strong boomerang effect against Madrid’s establishment, since many Catalans would side with their President in solidarity. With early elections on the horizon that could become a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence, a judicial complaint against Mas could bring him additional support. However, on the other hand, the judge could issue a temporary ban for public office against Mas, while the case is being solved.
The complaint is likely to be filed anyway
Despite the lack of support from Catalan prosecutors, Torres-Dulce is likely to follow through with it anyway, after several members of the Spanish Government, the People’s Party (PP) and other Spanish nationalist parties publicly urged him to do so in the last few days, including on Tuesday. In any case, the rebellion of Catalan prosecutors will not provoke a schism in this hierarchical institution, since on Tuesday afternoon they announced that they will obey Torres-Dulce if he insists. Barcelona-based prosecutors confirmed they have the complaint “almost ready” to be filed, if they receive the instruction from Madrid to do so. On Wednesday, Torres-Dulce will meet with prosecutors from throughout Spain in order to gather additional support for his position and the complaint could be filed that day or on Thursday.
Prosecutors based in Catalonia did not find enough evidence to file a judicial complaint for the citizen participation process on independence, in which 2.3 million Catalans cast their ballots. Catalan prosecutors argue that the Constitutional Court did not explicitly tell Mas to stop preparations for November 9 – even though the Spanish Government had requested the Court to do so. On top of this, in order to disobey a judicial decision, the court has to issue a first warning or a reminder of its decision, which was not the case. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court temporarily suspended November 9’s vote on November 4, but it did not declare the vote illegal, since the suspension is an automatic mechanism that is activated when the Court agrees to take into consideration an appeal from the Spanish Government. Furthermore, the Court rejected the opportunity to meet again after Tuesday’s decision in order to give further instruction and to debate about the Catalan Government’s appeal, while the vote was supposed to take place on Sunday.
Legal experts do not advise that the complaint be filed
Some expert voices back such views. Such is the case of Spain’s Supreme Court Judge Margarita Robles, who, on Tuesday, advised against taking political problems to court. Furthermore, the Council of Catalan Lawyers also issued a statement and considered that there are is enough evidence to launch a judicial process against the Catalan President and Ministers. In addition, Catalonia’s Supreme Court pointed out that they are already dealing with 12 complaints against the Catalan President for November 9’s vote, mostly filed by political organisations. They highlighted that the Barcelona-based Public Prosecution Office, which obeys Torres-Dulce, will have to issue reports about such complaints and therefore it will already have the opportunity to judicially investigate November 9’s vote.
Political parties quarrel over the complaint
The Catalan Government and most of the political parties based in Barcelona warned that Madrid’s pressures seriously damage the separation of powers, which is essential in any functional democracy. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, stated that the “unacceptable pressures” from the Spanish Government also damage “the rule of law” in Spain. Furthermore, Homs offered the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, a meeting with the Catalan President on November 29, when he travels to Catalonia.
Meanwhile, the PP is continuing to say in public that Torres-Dulce will find the complaint and that they are positive that he will do his job and “honour his duty”, as the PP’s Spokesperson at the Spanish Parliament, Alfonso Alonso, said on Tuesday. They also added that there are “enough reasons [for Torres-Dulce] to react”. Furthermore, the PP’s Deputy Secretary General for Organisation, in charge of party discipline, Carlos Floriano, accused Catalonia-based prosecutors of being “contaminated by the atmosphere of radical secessionism” and of not acting in an objective way. Meanwhile, Floriano denied putting any pressure on Torres-Dulce and highlighted the “autonomy” of the Public Prosecution Office.
In addition, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) warned the PP and the Spanish Government about “taking a political problem to courts” and they asked for “caution”. Furthermore, they criticised to what extent the complaint can be seen as launching “arguable and doubtful initiatives”. Once again, they urged the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to negotiate with Catalan representatives and to launch a Constitutional Reform. On top of this, the Spanish nationalist and populist party UPyD, which tends to compare the Catalan self-determination process with the Nazi regime, announced an additional complaint against Mas. UPyD will file a complaint directly to Catalonia’s Supreme Court but they asked the Public Prosecution Office “to act at once”.