Judge says Mas should face trial over referendum

L to R: Artur Mas, Joana Ortega & Irene Rigau in Catalan Parlament, Nov. 2014. Photo: Toni Albir/EFE via El Periódico
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• High Court judge says Catalan ex-President willfully disobeyed Supreme Court
• Recommends, Mas and two others face trial over Nov 2014 independence vote

A high court judge in Spain’s northern region of Catalonia wound up preliminary hearings Monday in the case involving a November 2014 referendum on Catalan independence staged in defiance of the country’s Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional, or TC), ruling that former Catalan President Artur Mas, former Vice-President Joana Ortega and former Education Councilor Irene Rigau should all face trial for having disobeyed the Supreme Court order and giving false testimony as to their roles in the referendum.

Judge Joan Manel Abril of the Tribunal Superior de Justícia de Catalunya (TSJC) said that the three regional officials were directly involved in holding the referendum, having “used public financial resources to provide paid services (for the referendum), fully aware of their disobediece of the court-ordered suspension, as evidenced by the labelling as ‘confidential’ or ‘sensitive’ of the electronic correspondence between the Generalitat Administration and private contractors.”

Just five days prior to the 9th November referendum scheduled in Catalonia, the country’s Constitucional Court acted on a petition from the Spanish government to suspend the balloting because the Spanish Constitution of 1978 expressly forbids the holding of referendums or plebiscites on independence or secession from Spain by any of its regions.

On Monday, Catalan regional government spokesperson Neus Munté reacted to the TSJC judge’s recommendation that Mas, Ortega and Rigau be placed on trial, calling it a political witchunt and retaliation by the central government against political parties and leaders in Catalonia who are pressing for independence.

► Read More in Spanish at La Vanguardia and El Periódico …

► Read More in English at Reuters …

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