Retrial of 2017 parliament bureau members gets underway

Four politicians had been disqualified from office for allowing votes on independence in chamber

The Catalan high court with the four pro-independence 2017 parliament bureau members sitting at the dock: Lluís Guinó, Ramona Barrufet, Anna Simó and Lluís Corominas
The Catalan high court with the four pro-independence 2017 parliament bureau members sitting at the dock: Lluís Guinó, Ramona Barrufet, Anna Simó and Lluís Corominas / Blanca Blay
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

March 14, 2023 11:06 AM

March 14, 2023 04:46 PM

Four former members of Catalonia's parliament bureau at the time of the 2017 independence referendum, Anna Simó, Lluís Corominas, Lluís Guinó, and Ramona Barrufet, sat at the dock again on Tuesday after the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the proceedings that took place in July 2020.

They were banned from holding public office for 20 months after being found guilty of disobedience for defying orders from Spain’s Constitutional Court and allowing Catalan MPs to vote on laws pursuing independence that had been deemed illegal. Additionally, they were fined €30,000 each. 

However, Judit Gené, the former parliament bureau members' lawyer, believes her clients should no longer be banned from holding public office.

"The Supreme Court took over two years to annul [the trial in which they were disqualified for a year and 8 months]. This means they've already served even more than their sentence," she said in court.


Supreme Court: lack of impartiality of two judges

However, in November 2022, Spain's top judges ordered a retrial in the Catalan High Court.

All four former parliament bureau members appealed the ruling alleging a lack of impartiality, a point that the Spanish Supreme Court agreed with.

Their right to a fair trial was violated by judges Jesús María Barrientos and Carlos Ramos, the Supreme Court ruled, as the two magistrates had previously explicitly expressed their opinions on the matter.

Former CUP MP Mireia Boya, who was also judged in that trial, did not appeal because she was acquitted.

Defending inviolability

During the court session, former parliament bureau members repeated that their actions followed legislation and that they have parliamentary inviolability. Their only actions were to take into consideration the will of the MPs.

Minutes before the trial started, politicians and civil society group leaders in favor of Catalan independence condemned the court session as a "shame as it directly attacks the basic characteristics of parliament, therefore democracy," Jordi Turull, Junts secretary general said. 

He gave the party's support to all those being judged, reiterating the wish "to recover illusion, unity, and willingness that made possible to serve our citizens."

Like Turull's statement, Carme Forcadell, the parliament speaker at the time, believes the trial is an "abuse so members of the bureau experience once again what they already experienced," she said.

She believes the parliament "should be the place to debate about anything," but always respecting human rights.

"If this is not the case, censorship takes over the parliament, which is not democratic," she concluded.

The far-left pro-independence party CUP also considers that the trial "proves" that the persecution against pro-independence figures "continues," as CUP MP Carles Riera said.

Something which Dolors Feliu, president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), agrees with as for her, this trial is just "a repetition of the one seen against leaders trialed for their role in the 2017 referendum."