Politics 03/03/2021

Catalan independence referendum electoral commissioners brought to trial

The Prosecutor's Office accuses them of the crimes of disobedience and usurpation of functions

2 min
The five 1-O trustees accompanied by pro-independence representatives at the gates of the Ciutat de la Justícia (City of Justice)
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BarcelonaJordi Matas, Marc Marsal, Tània Verge, Marta Alsina and Josep Pagès will sit on Wednesday in the courtroom to be tried for the alleged crimes of disobedience and usurpation of functions after having been part of the Electoral Commission of the 1-O, and for which the prosecution asks them up to two years and nine months in prison. They will do so more than three years after the complaint filed by the Public Prosecutor's Office in which they were also accused of an alleged crime of embezzlement of public funds and that the judge dismissed when the instruction of the case ended. The trial of the five electoral commissioners has been postponed twice: in April last year it was suspended because of the pandemic and the oral hearing was set for last November, but it also ended up being postponed until March due to a positive case in the court number 11, where the hearing is made.

According to the complaint filed by the Prosecutor's Office on September 14, 2017, the action of the Commission contravened the suspension of the referendum law (which was appealed to in the Constitutional Court by the Spanish government) and also the requirement that warned them that they could not appoint members of provincial commissions. The public ministry considered that they were exercising the functions "without any legitimacy" and therefore accused them of committing a crime of disobedience. In fact, they warned that the Commission had also made the selection of the polling stations, and had accredited the organizations interested in the campaign of the referendum. The prosecution also reproached them for continuing to act as public authorities and publishing the official newspapers of the Generalitat and the Parliament and reminded them that the functions that the Commission had planned to develop during the 1-O were reserved to the Electoral Boards. Because of this, they justified the crime of usurpation of functions.

The Electoral Commission was dissolved a week after the government of Carles Puigdemont explicitly asked for it. It was September 21 and the Constitutional Court had threatened fines of up to 12,000 euros per day for the five electoral commissioners and 6,000 euros for the members of the territorial commissions. The following day, the Catalan administration asked the members of the Commission to abandon their tasks. The five political scientists and jurists who will be judged this Wednesday defend their innocence and denounce "the repressive attitude of the Prosecutor's Office".

Support demonstration

Before the trial, the independentism has concentrated at the doors of the Ciutat de la Justícia (where the courts are located) to support the five commissioners. Among the one-hundred people who have demonstrated, there were the former president of the Generalitat Quim Torra; the president of the Parliament, Roger Torrent; the Minister of the Presidency, Meritxell Budó; the elected candidate of JxCat, Laura Borràs; as well as the former counselor Raül Romeva and the leader of JxCat and former president of the ANC, Jordi Sànchez. There were also the president of the ANC, Elisenda Paluzie, and the vice president of Òmnium, Marcel Mauri.

Electoral Commission support demonstration