Spanish treasury minister said referendum was not publicly funded; judge wants proof
Court prosecuting Catalan leaders for misuse of funds asks for clarifications
The Spanish judge investigating Catalan leaders for last October’s independence referendum has requested that Spain’s treasury minister Cristobal Montoro clarify whether the vote was publicly funded or not.
Montoro, in control of Catalan finances since September, recently stated that “not a single euro” was used to pay for the referendum. His words defy the case put together by the Supreme Court, in which pro-independence leaders are accused of misuse of public funds.
"I don't know how they paid for the October 1 ballot boxes manufactured in China. But I know it was not with public funds," said Montoro in an interview with the Spanish El Mundo newspaper published on Monday.
"I don't know how they paid for the October 1 ballot boxes manufactured in China. But I know it was not with public funds"
Cristóbal Montoro · Spain's treasury minister
As judge Pablo Llarena himself recognized, Montoro’s words "contravene" the evidence gathered during the pre-trial stage of the case against pro-independence leaders. The Supreme Court estimated that deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his cabinet had spent around €1.6 million of public money. Llarena urged the treasury minister to provide "objective" data to back his statement as soon as possible.
In total, 14 officials in Catalonia are being prosecuted for allegedly using public money to pay for the October 1 vote, deemed illegal by Spanish courts, among other accusations. Seven of them are currently held behind bars.
Courts in Germany, Scotland and Belgium are considering European Arrest Warrants issued by the Supreme Court against Puigdemont and the ministers who are seeking refuge from the Spanish judiciary abroad.
The Schleswig-Holstein court in Germany recently rejected extraditing Puigdemont on charges of rebellion, a criminal offence which entails the use of violence and which carries prison sentences of up to 30 years. The only crime which is currently being considered for the deposed president is that of misuse of funds.