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2017 parliamentary bureau member’s trial for disobedience now underway

Prosecutor believes he should be disqualified from public office for allowing votes on independence push

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24 March 2021 04:03 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

The trial of Joan Josep Nuet, member of the parliamentary bureau during the 2017 independence push, began on Wednesday in Spain's Supreme Court.

The public prosecutor accuses him of disobedience for helping allow votes on self-determination and independence in the chamber in 2017.

Both the attorney general and the solicitor general, representing the Spanish government, are requesting a 20-month disqualification from public office and a €24,000-fine, but no prison sentence. On the contrary, the far-right party, Vox, acting as a private prosecutor, are calling for 12 years behind bars.

Nuet is very likely to be convicted for disobedience in similar terms to those requested by the public prosecutor, because that was the sentence passed for his former colleagues in the bureau in October 2020 (they also each faced a €30,000-fine). 

Lluís Corominas, Anna Simó, Lluís Guinó, and Ramona Barrufet were found guilty of defying orders from Spain’s Constitutional Court for allowing MPs to vote on laws leading towards independence, laws which had already been deemed illegal. The reason why Nuet was not tried at the same time by the Catalan high court is because he is an MP in Spain's congress and, therefore, can only be brought before the Supreme Court.

  • "Not even the parliament's lawyers knew if authorizing [pro-independence laws and motions] to be debated by lawmakers was unconstitutional"

    Joan Josep Nuet · Former Parliament bureau member

Speaking before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, Nuet said that he did not attempt to breach the constitution when he authorized pro-independence motions to be brought to the parliament floor. "Not even the chamber’s lawyers knew it," he said.

Nuet testified that as a member of the parliament bureau he was expected to act as a gatekeeper, assessing whether legislative proposals could be debated based on "formal aspects", but not the "substance", which had to be debated by lawmakers.

Other trials related with the 2017 referendum

Nuet's is just one case out of a myriad of judicial cases stemming from the 2017 independence referendum and the declaration of independence.

The most relevant of the trials held was that affecting nine former ministers, two leading activists and the former parliament speaker, Carme Forcadell – nine of these 12 officials were convicted to sentences between nine and 13 years behind bars for sedition and misuse of public funds.

Indeed, Forcadell had a similar level of authority as her former colleagues in the bureau including Nuet, but was sentenced to 11.5 years on sedition charges in the end – her defense claimed that the requested conviction for her was not in line with those for Corominas, Guinó, Simó, and Barrufet.

Apart from Nuet's trial, other judicial cases related to the independence push are open: the main case, regarding the jailed leading politicians and activists in jail, has been taken to the Constitutional Court; a branch of the case involving those who went into exile, some of whom are pending an extradition request; and a procedure on the referendum logistics involving some 30 officials and businesspeople.

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  • MP in Spain's congress Joan Josep Nuet entering Supreme Court for his trial, in Madrid, on March 24, 2021 (by Andrea Zamorano)

  • MP in Spain's congress Joan Josep Nuet entering Supreme Court for his trial, in Madrid, on March 24, 2021 (by Andrea Zamorano)

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