• Mas found guilty of promoting unconstitutional independence referendum
• Former Catalan president fined, barred from public office for two years
In a ruling Monday by the Superior Court of Catalonia (TSJC), former president of Catalonia Artur Mas of the centre-right Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català (PDeCat, formerly CDC, or Convergencia Democrática de Cataluña), was found guilty of actively promoting a 2014 independence referendum in the northeast region in violation of Spain’s constitution and in spite of an order to desist issued at the time by Spain’s Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional).
Mas was fined 36,500 euros for the offence and barried from holding public office for a period of two years, while co-defendants and former cabinet ministers Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau were likewise found guilty, similarly fined and barred from holding public office for a period of 21 and 18 months, respectively. Mas has vowed to appeal the verdict to the Spanish Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary.
The court decision, while not unexpected, comes at a difficult time for the centre-right PDeCat,which despite the party’s marked shift in favor of independence for Catalonia beginning in 2012 has seen its electoral fortunes plummet in recent years. Plagued by allegations of corruption in recent years, former officials of the CDC are currently on trial on charges of illegally financing the party through kickbacks the international construction company Ferrovial related to the 2010 remodeling of Barcelona’s Palau de Música concert and entertainment complex.