Lawsuit against former Catalan Government for the 9-N symbolic vote on independence to proceed
Judge Joan Manel de Abril has refused the appeal which called for the closing of the file on former Catalan President, Artur Mas, former Catalan Vice President, Joana Ortega, and former Minister for Education, Irene Rigau, who were summonsed for having organised the non-binding and symbolic vote on independence that took place on the 9th of November 2014. Thus, the case will proceed and the accused will be taken before the court for alleged disobedience and perversion of justice. Pro-independence parties ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and radical left CUP showed their support to the summonsed and admitted to being “outraged” by the judge’s decision. On the other hand, Conservative People’s Party (PP) MP, Xavier García Albiol admitted to being “happy” and accused Mas of being “cocky”.
Barcelona (CNA).- Former Catalan President Artur Mas, former Catalan Vice President, Joana Ortega and former Minister for Education, Irene Rigau will ultimately be put on trial for alleged disobedience and perversion of justice in organising the 9-N symbolic vote on independence, in November 2014. Thus, the appeal made by the defences for the accused calling the judge to close the file, hasn’t been upheld. Pro-independence cross-party list ‘Junts Pel Sí’ admitted to being “outraged at belonging to a state which considers putting out the ballot boxes a crime” and expressed their support for the summonsed. On the other hand, the leader of the Conservative People’s Party (PP) in the Parliament, Xavier García Albiol, considered it “fair” that Mas, Ortega and Rigau would have to “sit in the dock”.
However, for the trial to ultimately take place the public prosecutor and the plaintiff should write the indictment and specify the crimes of which the trio are accused.
Mas, Ortega and Rigau, who declared before Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) last October, admitted that because the consultation was prohibited by the Spanish Constitutional Court on the 4th of November, 5 days before the referendum was due to take place, the Catalan government was forced to turn it into a "participative process with far less guarantees", stated former Catalan President, Artur Mas, during his trial. According to Mas, after the Spanish Constitutional Court's suspension the Government started "an intense reflection process" and analysed the steps to take together with the judicial services. The initiative took on a voluntary nature and by the 4th of November "was unstoppable".
However, Judge Joan Manel de Abril considered this Tuesday that the three politicians summonsed continued after the suspension to be behind the organisation of the symbolic vote, in particular he accused Mas, Ortega and Rigau of keeping the website Participa2014.cat online and having it updated, buying 9,000 computers and the required software to count the votes and being responsible for setting up the Fira de Barcelona pavilion so that the press could do a follow-up to the vote, as well as for the manufacture of the ballots and the ballot boxes – which were made of paper – and for the volunteers’ insurance.
According to the judge “private contractors” which were paid with public funding “played a key role” in the 9-N consultation. It is alleged that this was done “with full awareness that the [Spanish Constitutional Court’s] suspension was being disobeyed”.
Catalan Government sees “political intention”
Catalan Government spokeswoman, Neus Munté considered the moment chosen to ultimately proceed with the summonses against Mas, Ortega and Rigau to have “political intention”.“Of course there is political intention; this has been a political judgment since the very first moment and we have always reported this", she stated. "These are tactical moves which always favour the same side", she added. Munté assured that there had been "numerous attempts from the sewers of the State to avoid the ballot boxes being put out, but in the end they were [put out] and it was a great success and we, as a Government, must feel proud of this.”
Pro-independence parties, “outraged”
Pro-independence cross-party list ‘Junts Pel Sí’, the majoritarian group in the Parliament, admitted to being “outraged at belonging to a state which considers putting out the ballot boxes a crime”. ‘Junts Pel Sí MP, songwriter and anti-Francoist symbol, expressed his “solidarity with the summonsed” before the rest of the Chamber. “This gives us even more strength to keep the democratic mandate of the 27-S Catalan Elections”, he added, referring to the pro-independence majority then obtained and the launching of the corresponding political roadmap.
In a similar vein, Catalan Vice President, Oriol Junqueras expressed his nonconformity with the judge’s decision on Twitter. “A country which takes the exercise of democracy before the court but ignore the sewers of the state will never be ours”. Junqueras referred to the political scandal surrounding the Director of Catalonia’s Anti-fraud Office, Daniel de Alfonso, and current Spanish Minister for Home Affairs, Jorge Fernández Díaz for trying to smear Catalonia’s main pro-independence parties.
Radical left pro-independence CUP declared themselves “instigator and accomplice” in the 9-N consultation vote and warned that they “will do it again”. CUP also urged the calling of a unilateral referendum on independence in Catalonia to continue with the pro-independence roadmap.
PP to Mas: “Being cocky has its consequences”
The Conservative People’s Party’s leader in Catalonia, Xavier Garcia Albiol, admitted to being “happy” about the decision to continue the case against former Catalan President, Artur Mas, former Catalan Vice President, Joana Ortega and former Minister for Education, Irene Rigau. “Being cocky has its consequences, it looks fantastic to me”, stated Albiol, referring to Mas, who has repeatedly assumed responsibility for the 9-N symbolic vote. According to Albiol, Mas “wasn’t right” and it is now fair that he, Ortega and Rigau “have to sit in the dock”.