Banner in favor of jailed leaders finally removed following court order
President Torra had banner removed but only after deadline and court order that police remove it “immediately”
President Torra had banner removed but only after deadline and court order that police remove it “immediately”
Catalonia's Supreme Court (TSJC) has ruled against the petition filed by the Spanish Ministry of Education that asked to reopen the enrolment process for the next school year in order to use registration forms in which parents could explicitly choose whether they wanted their children to be taught in Spanish as an instruction language. In the last few years, the Spanish Government has been undertaking a judicial battle to change Catalonia's school model, which has been developed with an extremely wide consensus over the last 35 years and completely guarantees the knowledge of both Spanish and Catalan, as results show. The model is based on the linguistic immersion principle, through which children are mostly taught in Catalan, although many flexible measures are included. However, the Spanish Government would like to have Spanish as an instruction language as well, despite most of the pedagogic experts considering that if this were the case, many children from Spanish-speaking environments would not have a proficient knowledge of Catalan and would not be bilingual.
Spain's Supreme Court has once again ruled against the Catalan school model, following the individual appeals of a very small group of parents that wanted their children to be schooled in Spanish within Catalonia's public education system. Spain's Supreme Court (TS) has backed the decision of the Catalan Supreme Court (TSJC) to oblige schools in Catalonia to teach "at least 25%" of their subjects in Spanish, including "at least" one core subject. The TS considers such a share to be "reasonable and proportionate". It also admitted that by imposing such a share, the TSJC was "substituting" the role of the Catalan Government and Parliament. However, the TS justified such an invasion of powers because it considers the Catalan Government to have disobeyed its previous rulings and not changed the school model to make sure that children can also have Spanish as a regular tuition language if parents request this. However, the TS’ decisions are far from reasonable, according to a broad majority of Catalan society, since it breaks social cohesion and a model approved by an extremely broad consensus that perfectly guarantees the knowledge of both Spanish and Catalan.
The Spanish Ministry of Education has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Catalonia (TSJC) to cancel the already-sent enrolment applications for the next school year in order to include the option of choosing Spanish as the language of tuition. Five parties representing 80% of the Catalan Parliament have strongly protested against this "new attack" on a school model that guarantees that pupils master both Spanish and Catalan and has many flexibility measures for newcomers. The model is also backed by an extremely broad majority of Catalan society and only a few dozen families, out of the 1.55 million pupils in Catalonia, had requested education in Spanish. Linguistic immersion in Catalan ensures knowledge of the language by children who are not regularly exposed to it, while the model also ensures knowledge of Spanish. Therefore, equal opportunities and complete bilingualism are ensured. However, the model has been the target of Spanish nationalists for a long time.
Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) has stated that there are “signs” that the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas; the Vice President, Joana Ortega; and the Education Minister, Irene Rigau, “did not obey” the Constitutional Court’s ban on the symbolic independence vote, which took place on 9 November. On Thursday, 3 weeks after it accepted all the criminal complaints filed against Mas, Ortega and Rigau for having authorised and co-organised the non-binding vote, the TSJC issued the notifications justifying its decision. The Court considers there to be evidence suggesting they may have committed disobedience, perversion of the legal process and embezzlement offenses. Therefore, the high judicial body is launching a corresponding investigation, which will focus on the vote’s preparation between the Constitutional Court’s ban and the day of the vote itself.
Hundreds of citizens have pled guilty in solidarity with the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, Vice President, Joana Ortega, and Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau, who are being prosecuted by the Spanish authorities for having authorised and co-organised the symbolic vote on independence that took place on 9 November. On Tuesday morning, citizens queued to plead guilty in front of Catalonia’s Supreme Court. This comes a day after the Court launched a judicial investigation on the criminal complaints against three members of the Catalan Government filed by a few individuals, extreme-right organisations and the Spanish Public Prosecution Office, whose Director is directly appointed by the Spanish Government. The solidarity campaign is organised by the civil society association that organised the largest pro-independence rallies of the last 2 years, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). Many leading politicians are also pleading guilty and all the parties in Catalonia, except the Spanish nationalist ones, have come out in protest against the penal prosecution of the Catalan Government on account of a political issue.
Spain’s Director of the Public Prosecution Office, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, has announced his resignation “for personal reasons”. However, it is well-known that Torres-Dulce has had several arguments with the Spanish Government, run by the People’s Party (PP) and chaired by Mariano Rajoy. The latest argument was about prosecuting the Catalan President and other members of the Catalan Government for the symbolic vote on independence held on 9 November. Several PP members announced the penal actions before Torres-Dulce had given the instruction to press charges. At that time, Torres-Dulce denied having been pressured by the Spanish Government, but many voices criticised the absence of a separation of powers. On top of this, the main public prosecutors in Catalonia initially rejected the criminal complaint, but Torres-Dulce – appointed by the Spanish Government – obliged them to file it. Furthermore, he has also had many arguments with the PP on account of the numerous corruption scandals being investigated.
The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, confirmed before the Senate that he had “not given any instruction to the Public Prosecution Office” to press charges against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, for having authorised and organised November 9’s symbolic vote on independence. Rajoy was answering a question from Mas’ party, the centre-right pro-Catalan State Coalition CiU, which had accused the Spanish PM of hiding behind the courts in order to avoid giving Catalan citizens a political answer regarding their self-determination demands. Besides, the CiU Senators showed banners in which they pleaded guilty for November 9’s vote as well. In the morning, the Catalan Government announced it will ask to testify before the court and to do it “en bloc”, if the criminal complaint from the Spanish Public Prosecution Office is accepted.
On Friday, Spain’s Public Prosecution Office filed the criminal complaint against the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas; the Vice President, Joana Ortega; and the Education Minister, Irene Rigau. They are being prosecuted for the symbolic vote on independence that took place on November 9. Such a complaint has come with great controversy, as the Spanish Government and the People’s Party (PP) have been accused of putting pressure on the Director of the Public Prosecution Office, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, to press charges against the Catalan President. Despite the main prosecutors in Catalonia having stated there was not enough legal basis for such a complaint, Torres-Dulce announced he would press charges anyway. In response, the 6 parties that agreed to organise the original consultation vote on independence, which represent almost two thirds of the Catalan Parliament, sent a letter to Torres-Dulce and plead guilty for the organisation of November 9’s symbolic vote.
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”.
The judge has not accepted the complaint filed by the extreme-right and Spanish nationalist trade union Manos Limpias against Carme Forcadell, President of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the main civil society association supporting independence. Barcelona's first-circuit court number 14 does not see evidence or hints pointing towards any offence and therefore it has decided not to launch a judicial investigation and instead it rejected the complaint. On the 21st of August, Manos Limpias – which has nothing to do with the Italian homonym organisation from the 1990s – announced the complaint against Forcadell, accusing her of promoting "the subversion of the constitutional order" and therefore "provoking sedition".
After being indicted for several months for an influence peddling and bribery case that is under judicial investigation, Oriol Pujol has now resigned as Secretary General of the CDC, the Liberal and largest force within the two-party Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU) that runs the Catalan Government. In addition, he has resigned as Member of the Catalan Parliament. Oriol Pujol, who is the son of the historical leader of conservative Catalan nationalism Jordi Pujol, was firstly indicted in March 2013 and back then he "delegated" his party and parliamentary tasks – where he was the President of CiU's parliamentary group. However, he did not officially resign as Secretary General and continued as MP, insisting in his innocence. Judicial, political and media pressure have increased in the last year and in March 2014, he was indicted for bribery for the same case, a tender to grant licenses to technical vehicle inspection garages in Catalonia.
The Catalan High Court has confirmed its previous decision to oblige 5 schools to teach "at least 25%" of their mandatory subjects in Spanish if the family of a single pupil asks for it, regardless of the opinion of the other children's families. The measure should be adopted "immediately", but the Catalan Government announced that it will lodge another appeal. Two months ago, the affected schools and the Catalan Executive had already appealed a decision that interpreted a previous judgement from the Spanish Supreme Court on the complaint presented by a dozen families from Catalonia. The measure represents a threat to the knowledge of Catalan language by all Catalan children, as well as a threat to true bilingualism, equal opportunities and social cohesion. The current model follows these principles as children totally master both languages, Spanish and Catalan. In addition, the court decision is a threat against separation of powers and Catalonia's self-government.