Case reopened against Mayor for not taking down pro-independence flag
Barcelona (ACN).- The case against Montse Venturòs, the Mayor of Berga, for not taking down the Catalan pro-independence flag from the City Hall building during elections has been reopened. Although Berga’s trial court decided not to pursue the case last March after considering that exhibiting the Catalan pro-independence flag was not “an act of propaganda” nor disobedience, the court has now accepted the appeal presented by the Public Prosecutor asking for the case to be reopened. Venturós lawyer and party colleague Benet Salellas from pro-independence CUP said that reopening the case proved “how deeply politicized the Spanish justice is and how legal procedures are the main battering ram against the pro-independence movement and the democratic demands of Catalan citizens”.
Salellas criticized the fact that a similar case was recently reopened regarding public officials in Badalona who went to work on October 12th, which is Spain’s National Day and therefore a holiday. He complained that magistrates who “chose not to get involved in the political conflict and understand that criminal law is not for correcting political actions are condemned by their own superiors” which are “much more obliging with the political power in office”.
The CUP has called for demonstrations in the upcoming days in support of Venturós.
A controversial arrest
Last November, the police arrested Venturós, mayor of the small village of Berga, located 80 kilometres north of Barcelona, for an alleged “electoral crime” and for “disobedience to authorities”. She was accused of ignoring the Electoral Roll Office’s warrants by not taking down the pro-independence flag which hung on the façade of the Town Hall during two election cycles: the Catalan elections of September 27, 2015 and the Spanish elections of December 20, 2016.
Her arrest caused an outcry among pro-independence parties and also those in favor of the right of Catalonia to hold a referendum on independence. Talking to journalists after testifying before the judge, Venturós confirmed her commitment to the “popular mandate” for independence and said that her arrest was “a fresh attack on the Catalan people” by “an absolutely anti-democratic” Spanish state. The Catalan Government has described the arrest as “outrageous”.
Last March, the magistrate in Berga’s trial court concluded that exhibiting the Catalan pro-independence flag from the City Hall façade was not “an act of propaganda” since “it wasn’t a political option attributable to a concrete candidacy but rather to several ones”. He added that an “electoral crime” is committed when a campaign is aimed at obtaining a particular vote.
Regarding the accusation of “disobedience to the authorities”, the magistrate stated that there was not a “clear, patent, undoubtful, evident or unequivocal rejection” from Venturós to take down the flag but “passivity” instead.