State Attorney General vows to use ‘criminal courts’ to fight independence process ‘if necessary’

Madrigal warns against the pro-independence movement’s ‘total contempt’ for the Constitution. Meanwhile, Munté criticises those who seek to use the law as a ‘gag’.

Mariona Ferrer I Fornells
3 min
La fiscal general de l'Estat, Consuelo Madrigal, amb el president del Suprem i del CGPJ, Carlos Lesmes, Felip de Borbó i el ministre de Justícia en funcions, Rafael Catalá, durant l'obertura de l'any judicial. EFE

MadridOnce more, the Catalan independence process featured in some of the speeches made during the solemn opening ceremony marking the start of the judicial year held at the Madrid Supreme Court and presided over by King Felipe. The State Attorney General, Consuelo Madrigal, concluded her address by warning the king of the ‘total disregard for constitutional order’ by certain sectors of the Catalan independence movement. During her speech, Madrigal -who took office last year- also warned of the ‘demagoguery’ of some Catalan politicians. She claimed that they ‘invoke the concept of freedom’ with no regard for the law and warned that ‘certain uses of freedom can pose a danger to democracy. It is not freedom which frees the people, but the law’, she declared.

Consequently, Madrigal brandished the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 2 December 2015 which declared [the Catalan] Parliament’s breakaway declaration unconstitutional and void, while emphasising that the State Attorney General would always act with this in mind since, ‘in a democratic vision of power, there is no other legitimacy than that which is provided by the law.’

Madrigal went on to say that ‘in an uncertain political and social context such as the one we are currently experiencing, and faced with the challenge to the rule of law and the total contempt for constitutional order by pro-independence circles, we ought to maintain the integrity of our intellectual awareness, as did the Constitutional Court in its ruling of 2 December 2015’.

Madrigal referred to the ruling in order to reassure those present, ‘the attorney general has acted and will continue to act before the Constitutional Court and before the criminal courts, if necessary.’

Lesmes: ‘Justice has not been politicized’

In his speech, the President of the Supreme Court and the General Council of the Judiciary, Carlos Lesmes, focused on combating claims that justice has been politicized. ‘It pains us to hear that the justice system for which we work has been politicized. Such statements, made by all manner of commentators, do not conform to reality and are proven wrong by judges’, he argued. He went on to stress the ‘vigorous independence’ of Spain’s judges.

The legal year has begun in the spotlight, with the start of trials which have dogged the PP for some time, such as the Gürtel case, Rita Barberá being tried in the Taula case, and the Bárcenas case. Both Madrigal and Lesmes spoke at some length about corruption. The state attorney general called for a cross-party agreement, while the president of the Supreme Court noted that ‘the action of the justice system is not enough’ in the fight against corruption. As a consequence, she called for an overhaul of public management.

Munté denies lack of respect for the Constitution and criticizes those who use it as a ‘gag’

‘Those who ought not to speak do, while those who ought to speak, don’t,’ said the Catalan government’s spokesperson and Minister of the Presidency, Neus Munté, during the press conference held following a cabinet meeting. Munté replied to Lesmes by stating she was surprised to hear him claim that there is no politicization of justice, when during the inauguration of the legal year, statements were made which were of a ‘100% political’ nature. The spokesperson also criticized talk of ‘fighting’ with Catalonia and she denied any ‘lack of respect’ for the constitutional order. ‘There are others who treat the Constitution as a limit and a 'gag' for Catalonia’s democratic aspirations’.

‘It’s clear that there is no political response to the democratic challenge’, but rather a ‘systematic’ use of justice to address ‘a political problem’.