Politics 06/05/2021

Former Catalan Minister of Agriculture's case transferred to Supreme Court

Judge Marchena to ask prosecutors whether they push for charges of embezzlement or disobedience

3 min
Former councillor Meritxell Serret outgoing to testify from the Supreme Court.

BarcelonaMeritxell Serret, Catalan Minister of Agriculture at the time of the 2017 Independence Referendum, was charged on March 21, 2018 for alleged disobedience and embezzlement of public funds. And it is precisely for these two crimes for which she could now be judged after the investigating judge, Pablo Llarena, communicated this Thursday that he had completed the indictment and sent the case on to the second chamber of the Supreme Court, presided over by Manuel Marchena. "After completing the proceedings been deemed necessary for the verification of the crime, as well as to determine the defendant's participation in the events and the concurrent circumstances in its commission and considering any other inquiry unnecessary, it is appropriate to conclude the present indictment," the four-page order reads.

It will now therefore be the criminal chamber - the one that already judged and sentenced the political prisoners and the rest of the Ministers who did not go into exile - which will be responsible for managing the case. For the moment, it will have to ask for the accusing parties' report of conclusions (Prosecutor's Office, State Attorney's Office and Vox) to determine whether they continue pushing charges for embezzlement or whether, on the contrary, they stick to disobedience charges. Logic would lead one to believe that they will do so only for disobedience, taking into account the outcome of the Independence bid trial (only Ministers responsible for Departments that enabled premises for the vote were accused of embezzlement). However, in the case of the trial in the Audiencia Nacional against the leadership of the Catalan Police the Prosecutor insisted on pushing for charges of rebellion (and not for sedition), despite the charge having been rejected in prior trials.

It will also open the door for Serret's defense, led by lawyer Iñigo Iruin, to request the case to be heard in Catalonia by the Catalan High Court of Justice, which would be the competent organ as she is currently an elected member of the Catalan parliament. It has not yet been made clear what the defence will do, but, once again, it enters the field of logic: one of the violations of rights that the political prisoners have taken to the Constitutional Court and also intend to send to the European Court of Human Rights is that of the judge predetermined by law. Llarena, by the way, refused to transfer Serret's case to Catalonia. He also refuses Anna Gabriel's case, which is similar, to be heard in Catalonia.

The only exile who has returned

By surprise, Serret returned to Catalonia last March 11, after having spent more than three years in Belgian exile. She is the only one of the exiles who has decided to take the road back, despite the fact that she is also the only one (with Anna Gabriel) who is not charged with sedition. That day she went directly to the Supreme Court - with which she had had contacts - to place herself at the disposal of the Spanish authorities. She was released and it was not until April 30 when Serret declared before Llarena. She acknowledged having gone ahead with the referendum despite the warnings of the Constitutional Court, but denied that her department had assumed any expenses related to the referendum.

Since the Catalan elections in February, Serret has been a deputy in Parliament for ERC. This should make it easier for her case to be transferred to Catalonia. However, it will be up to the judge to decide. At the moment Constitutional Court has already ruled in favor of the Supreme Court, which decided to assume the investigation and the trial of the leaders of the Independence bid despite the fact that they were no longer MPs when they were arrested.