Prosecutor's Office does not abate and pushes ahead in Court of Auditors case

2 min
The headquarters of the Court of Audit in Madrid.

The Prosecutor's Office is not easing in its ideological persecution of the independence movement. This Wednesday it became known in general terms what the lawsuit against 35 former Catalan government officials contains. It revolves around the 2017 referendum as well as the Generalitat's foreign action between 2011 and 2017, in a case that is clearly political and unfair from its very start. It is illogic that the Generalitat's foreign action, which at the time was perfectly legal and was not challenged before any court, is investigated by an administrative body that aims to economically punish political opponents for events which, in any case, have already been judged in a different trial. That said, the only good thing that can be drawn from this lawsuit, the full content of which has not yet been made public, is that the court's prosecutor, Manuel Martín-Granizo, of the Progressive Union of Prosecutors, considerably reduced the money that he considers may have been embezzled. From the initial €9m it has been cut to €3.4m, and, more significantly, the justification he gives for this reduction is that "the lawsuit respects and applies a principle of ideological freedom", so that he considers that the debates or conferences that could have been given were covered by freedom of expression.

Belatedly and slowly part of the State's judicial administration is coming to its senses and seeing how difficult it is to defend that Spain is a state which respects the rule of law while it directly persecutes political options that do not agree with its own. The Catalan government of those years was legitimised at the ballot box by a majority of Catalans who had precisely voted for it to do what it did, and therefore, if the political option was legal, it should also be legal to promote it and explain it inside and outside the country.

This brief by the Public Prosecutor's Office, which is not the only accusation in the case, since Societat Civil Catalana is also involved, is in any case a step forward compared to the accusations by the previous prosecutor Miguel Ángel Torres. The renewal of the Court of Auditors was one of the steps PSOE took to try to reduce the judicialisation of the Independence bid. It was a limited step, because it only affected this court and the Constitutional Court, but not the core, which is the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary, which remains unchanged as the PP refuses to allow a more progressive vision in. At the moment, the highest governing body of the judiciary, as well as the Supreme Court, is in the hands of the far right wing of the judiciary, over which not only the PP but also Vox maintains control. This makes it hard to believe there will be a resurgence of political debate on Catalan demands.

The Court of Auditors case is now entering the trial phase and, in the first instance, will be heard by Elena Hernáez, a former high-ranking official of Isabel Díaz Ayuso's first government in Madrid. Little can be expected from her ruling, and it will be necessary to wait for an appeal –in a chamber in which there is a majority of members appointed by the Socialists– to know if there is really a will to leave judicialisation behind.