High Court Judge recused and trial postponed in Parliamentary Bureau case

Court accepts deputy speaker's request and admits that the fact that the recused judge left a conference while then speaker was intervening is not "neutral"

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The president of the TSJC, Jesús María Barrientos.

BarcelonaScript twist, at least temporarily, in the case against the previous Parliamentary Bureau for having allowed a debate and a vote on resolutions in favour of the independence referendum and against the monarchy. Catalonia's High Court has accepted the recusal of the court's president, Jesús María Barrientos, which was demanded by former deputy Speaker Josep Costa. This means that the court will remove Barrientos from the case and, automatically, will postpone the trial –initially scheduled for July 12, 13 and 15– so that Barrientos can be replaced by another magistrate. The High Court admits the recusal because it accepts that Barrientos's leaving a conference in which the situation of "political prisoners" was denounced was not neutral, "but a public and forceful show of disagreement with the person". It was on February 23, 2018 at the Col·legi d'Advocats and giving the conference was then Speaker Roger Torrent, who has been indicted in this case.

"If we take into account that other public figures such as the Minister of Justice himself and a member of the General Council of the Judiciary remained in their seats, the appearance of impartiality deteriorates even more," the High Court states in a resolution, which, even so, stresses that they do not "doubt" Barrientos's impartiality. "That we do not doubt it does not mean that there are not serious and well-founded reasons and that the recusant and part of the society may believe them," the court's order states.

It was Costa who requested the judge's recusal, despite the fact that the events concerned Torrent, who did not demand it. In fact, Costa's demand mentioned other factors, such as the fact that Barrientos was chosen by Parliament, but the court dismissed them. Another request made by Adriana Delgado, former secretary of the Parliamentary Bureau, was also dismissed. "He defended his impartiality by insulting and disrespecting, which is why yesterday we recused him for the third time. His colleagues have accepted the recusal unanimously," Costa celebrated on Twitter. Torrent,now a Catalan minister, denounced that "this trial should never be held": "Freedom of expression and the autonomy of its members protects all parliamentary debates", he added in a tweet.