Politics 27/05/2021

Prosecutor seeks 20-month ban from office for Quim Torra over second banner on Generalitat building

Catalan High Court gave former president 48 hours in September 2019 to withdraw it and finally ordered it to the Mossos

2 min
The president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, at the gates of the TSJC

The Prosecutor's Office is seeking a 20-month ban form public office and a €30,000 fine for former Catalan president Quim Torra for not taking down a banner supporting political prisoners from the balcony of the Generalitat in September 2019. He stands accused of disobedience, since the the Catalan High Court gave him 48 hours to take down the banner and the former president did not do so claiming that the order violated freedom of expression. Finally the court ordered the Mossos d'Esquadra to remove it, although Generalitat staff removed it first.

Unionist entity Impulso Ciudadano asked the High Court in June 2019 to force Torra to remove the banner with the slogan "Freedom for political prisoners and exiles" written in Catalan and English and a yellow ribbon. The court admitted the request for precautionary measures and on 19 September issued a removal order, which was personally communicated to Torra on 23 September, giving him a maximum period of 48 hours. However, on 20 September Torra issued a communiqué stating that he would not comply with the order. Torra did not take down the banner, claiming that the decision was not firm and was subject to appeal. According to the former president, the banner was an exercise of the rights of freedom of expression, political participation and exercise of representative office.

On September 25, the Generalitat presented an appeal for reconsideration against the order of the High Court where it asked for the suspension of the precautionary measure. The following day the High Court recalled that the appeal did not suspend the order. On September 27th, shortly after 12 noon, a lawyer of the administration of justice took note that the banner was still in place. Then the High Court ordered the commissioner of the Catalan police, known as the Mossos d'Esquadra, to remove the banner. Shortly after three o'clock in the afternoon Mossos d'Esquadra officers went to the Palau de la Generalitat with the order, which Generalitat workers ended up fulfilling.

As for the ban, the Prosecutor's Office asks that it be for the exercise of any elected public office or government at local, regional, state or European level, and that this disqualification entails the "definitive" deprivation of these public offices and the honours that they entail, as well as the impossibility of obtaining them during the time of conviction. The Prosecutor's Office also wants the inspector of the Mossos d'Esquadra who received the order to remove the banner testify as a witness at the trial.

Torra was already convicted of the same crime by the High Court for not having remover the same banner in March 2019 after the requirements of the Central Electoral Board. His disqualification became final in September of last year, when it was ratified by the Supreme Court. The high court has upheld in full the sentence that the Catalan High Court's ruling for one and a half years of disqualification and a €30,000 fine for having disobeyed "repeatedly and contumaciously" the orders of the Elecoral Board, as ratified by the Supreme Court. It was the first conviction of a president of the Generalitat in the exercise of his functions and caused the vice president Pere Aragonès to become acting president.

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