Court admits prosecution of ex Speaker and Parliamentary Bureau members

They stand accused over the debate of two resolutions on self-determination and the monarchy

3 min
Roger Torrent and Josep Costa in an archive picture

A new term has started but the legal consequences of the previous term are yet to play out. Friday was the last day of Roger Torrent as Speaker, as well as for the hitherto members of the parliamentary bureau. Two weeks before leaving office they learned that the prosecutor's office was seeking to prosecute them for disobedience and now Catalonia's High Court has admitted the procedure. The prosecution accuses the former Speaker and the pro-independence members of the bureau - Josep Costa, Eusebi Campdepadrós and Adriana Delgado - of disobedience for having processed a resolution to respond to the conviction of the 2017 referendum organisers, in which, among other things, they reiterated Parliament's commitment to the self-determination of Catalonia and the reprobation of the monarchy, despite the warnings of the chamber lawyers that this could violate the prohibition of the Constitutional Court.

The three magistrates of the civil and criminal chamber that have admitted the complaint consider that there are enough elements to investigate the facts and the accused -two of whom are MPs, Torrent and Campdepadrós, and therefore have to be investigated in Catalonia's High Court-. The facts date back to the Parliament's response to the Supreme Court's ruling on the Independence bid - 43 days passed between the sentencing of political prisoners and the pro-independence parties agreeing on a joint reaction. And it was this: "Therefore, [the Parliament] reiterates and will reiterate as many times as MPs want the reprobation of the monarchy, the defence of the right to self-determination and the defence of the sovereignty of the people of Catalonia to decide their political future". In the opinion of the Prosecutor's Office, the bureau should have prevented that text from being voted o in the plenary of the Parliament. It is, in fact, the only complaint in this term against the members of the bureau. Vox had tried it twice, but Catalonia's High Court had ended up filing the complaints.

Warnings from the Constitutional Court

The resolution was drafted, admitted, debated and approved with knowledge of previous warnings from the Constitutional Court. Even the lawyers of the Parliament had joined, warning the members of the Bureau that not allowing the processing of this initiative involved going against the Constitutional Court. The resolution was registered on 22 October, a few weeks after the Constitutional Court had warned the Bureau (on 10 and 16 October) that it had accepted an incident of execution of the sentence promoted by the Spanish government by which they had "the duty to prevent or paralyse any parliamentary initiative that meant ignoring or circumventing the suspension agreed". That is, they could not reprove the monarchy or insist on the exercise of the right to self-determination or the validity of the declaration of independence (the latter was not done). Then, Roger Torrent, as the highest authority of the chamber, said he would assume "all the consequences" that could arise. The prosecution, however, excludes from the complaint the second vice president, Joan García, and the secretaries Laura Vílchez and David Pérez, representatives of Cs and PSC at the table, who tried to stop the processing of the proposal.

The rejection of the camera to the conviction of pro-independence leaders (the Prosecutor's Office recalls that the resolution also criticised the Constitutional Court for trying to prevent the debate) is not the only reason for the charges. A few weeks earlier, on November 12, a CUP motion was debated and approved that expressed the will of the Parliament "to exercise in a concrete way the right to self-determination and to respect the will of the Catalan people". The Prosecutor's Office stresses that the members of the bureau were warned that same day by the Constitutional Court of their duty to prevent the vote and that, even so, they did not stop the vote in the chamber.

Once the complaint has been accepted by Catalonia's High Court, an investigation is opened which, if it ends up considering that they disobeyed authority, they could be disqualified, as already happened with the pro-independence members of the previous bureau. The admission of the process, however, is only the first step of an investigation that will be led by magistrate Maria Eugènia Alegret