Judicialization
Politics 17/03/2022

Torra, tried for disobedience in absentia

The ex-president, who faces a 20-month ban from office, says the hearing is "a farce"

2 min
Imatge de archivo del expresidente Quim Torra al TSJC.

BarcelonaCatalan ex-president Quim Torra was to face his second trial for disobedience this Thursday, for hanging a banner in defence of political prisoners from the Palau de la Generalitat. But in a statement and a video posted on social media, Torra has announced that he will not turn up in court: "Today I will be tried again, but I will not legitimise a new farce, a new repressive staging disguised as justice, with my presence. I ask for protection from international courts, because I do not recognise the legitimacy of the Spanish justice system which does not respect either international treaties or fundamental rights. Catalan pro-independence supporters can only find justice in Europe," he said.

The Prosecutor's Office is seeking a 20-month ban from office for Torra. As this is less than two years in prison, the trial may be held in absentia. In fact, his lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, explained before entering the court that Torra is within his right not to appear, and even more so taking into account "the way in which the courts have treated him". "We always win in Europe," he added.

This is the second trial for alleged disobedience of a 2019 Catalan High Court order to remove a banner calling for the freedom of pro-independence prisoners and the return of exiles from the facade of the Palau de la Generalitat. The case is being investigated as a result of a complaint by Impulso Ciudadano platform. The former president was already tried and disqualified in a first trial also for not removing the banner during the election period.

In the video, Torra acknowledges, as he did in the first case, that he disobeyed the instructions because they were "illegal". He adds that the second trial shows that political repression in the state continues and takes the opportunity to express his support for all those investigated and indicted for similar facts and in the framework of the 2017 Referendum. "I will not legitimise this farce," Torra insisted, who at the same time asks for protection from international courts because he claims that he will not find justice in Spanish courts. The former president claims the banners "in defence of human rights" are legitimate and should be allowed in public spaces. In this sense, he gives as an example the banners in support of Ukraine currently visible on many buildings.

Constitutional Court minority reports

On the other hand, Torra urges the magistrates who have to judge him this second time to follow two Constitutional Court judges' minority reports in the appeal presented by the former president against his first disqualification. One of them believed Torra's doubts about the High Court's president's impartiality were "legitimate and reasonable" and another argued that the constitutionality of the automatic bar from office should have been debated.

Both Torra and his defence recall that the Council of Europe urged the Spanish state to stop cases against politicians who took over from the ones who were imprisoned or went into exile, as it was their "legitimate right" to ask for freedom. It is for this reason that in the defence brief presented last September Torra's lawyer asks that resolution 2381 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe be included into the evidence.

Finally, Torra affirms that his trial shows that there are political trials in the Spanish state and regrets that, in the face of this, the independence movement "is not able to articulate a united, stong and defiant response". The former president claims that there are no solutions other than independence and that the later it comes, "the worse".

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