Politics 05/05/2021

Torra does not intend to pay Electoral Board fines and says he is willing to "go to prison"

Court rejects former president's complaint against magistrate who advised Cs

2 min
The president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, at the exit of the Palace with the banner of the yellow ribbon.

BarcelonaDespite the fact that it has already been six months since former Catalan president Quim Torra left the political front line, court cases continue to accumulate. One of them is the dispute that he maintains with the Central Electoral Board for initially refusing to withdraw banners and symbols in favour of the freedom for political prisoners from the administration's building during the electoral campaign of March 2019. The Electoral Board now demands payment of a €8,500 fine and Torra has formally communicated this Wednesday, after receiving the requirement, that he does not intend to pay. "I will not voluntarily pay these fines. They are part of the plundering disguised as legality that for years, decades and centuries the Spanish state has been executing in the Països Catalans," he said in a statement.

"I will not pay these fines and, therefore, they will have to steal this money from me if they want to collect them. I am willing to go to prison," added the former president. The fines are a penalty for having disregarded instructions issued by the Board itself, which Torra believes "completely irregular and illegitimate" and are part of a "repressive process of coercion and persecution of the independence movement in Catalonia". These fines were challenged by the ex president but unsuccessfully, and now he will incorporate them into the legal suit he wants to open before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

In addition, Torra has explained that he does not want anyone to pat the €8,500 euros for him, not even the Caixa de Solidaritat, which has done so in the cases of other politicians and that also offered him help. The ex president has used the communiqué to ask Catalans to resume "the determined path towards independence without waiting for permissions or dialogues that will never come". This was a sweep at the negotiating table ERC defends, which has generated more than one controversy in the ongoing negotiations between JxCat and ERC for Pere Aragonès's investiture.

Andrés Betancor

For months Torra and the JEC maintained a tug-of-war of appeals and challenges, and in one of these episodes the former president denounced one of the members of the Board, Andrés Betancor, because he considered that he had committed several crimes because he was also a Ciudadanos adviser. The issue is that this professor was part of the JEC at the proposal of Ciudadanos between 2017 and 2019, when, in addition, he was a party adviser and even had an office in the Spanish Parliament. Precisely this Wednesday Madrid's court of instruction number 43 informed it was rejecting Torra's complaint. The former president defended that there was an electoral crime and a crime in activities and advising prohibited to public officials, since the professor had combined the two tasks.

In the resolution, the judge disagreed with the former president and considers that it has not been proven that he is a "public official who takes advantage of this condition due to the fact of being part of the Board and finding against the interests of the plaintiff". The magistrate does not rule out that there may be some incompatibility between the two positions held by Betancor, but considers that this has to be examined in "the administrative field" and not in criminal justice. For Torra this is an intense week from the judicial point of view, since on Tuesday it was confirmed that he will be tried again for disobedience over another complaint related to the banners on government buildings.

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