Public Prosecutor sues Catalan officials for initiating ballot box purchase
Barcelona (ACN).- Catalonia’s Public Prosecutor has presented a lawsuit against Catalan Minister for Public Administration, Meritxell Borràs, for initiating the process of buying ballot boxes for the referendum. The complaint, ordered by Spanish Public Prosecutor, José Manuel Maza, has been presented before the High Court and also includes the department for Public Administration’s General Secretary, Francesc Esteve, and all those “whom could be found responsible during the investigation”. The Prosecutor considers that simply beginning the purchase of the ballot boxes is against the Spanish Constitutional Court’s (TC) rulings and thus accuses Borràs and Esteve of perversion of justice, disobedience, and embezzlement.
According to a communiqué released by the Spanish Public Prosecutor, the lawsuit responds to the publication of the call for bids for supplying ballot boxes in Catalonia's Official Journal (DOGC) on May 9th. This publication constitutes “unlawful conduct” to carry out the referendum,the Prosecutor sustains.
Moreover, by allowing the acquisition of ballot boxes, the Catalan Government is violating the TC rulings and promoting the constitutive process foreseen by the Catalan Parliament, which, according to the prosecutor, “cannot possibly fit within the Parliament’s and the Catalan Government’s competencies”.
Government “covering up” the referendum preparation
According to the Public Prosecutor, the agreement published in the DOGC with reference to the acquisition of ballot boxes refers to electoral processes, non-binding referenda, and other forms of citizen participation but actually attempts to “cover up the preparation of the referendum”. By doing so, the Government is “allocating public funds for their own illegal purposes”, such as “acquiring material for holding an unconstitutional referendum”.
Accusations of disobedience, perversion of justice, and embezzlement
The 52-page long lawsuit accuses the Catalan Government, and in particular Borràs and Esteve, of asking for bids for supplying ballot boxes “while being absolutely aware” of the fact that by doing so “they were launching the procedures to carry out a binding and secessionist referendum which they know is not only against the law but which violates the TC rulings as well”. Thus, the Catalan Government has openly shown “its unambiguous and irreversible willingness to carry out its political project ‘by forging ahead’ with total disregard for the Spanish Constitution of 1978 or the TC’s rulings,” says the Spanish Public Prosecutor.
The Public Prosecutor also accuses Borràs and Esteve of the crime of continued perversion of justice since “by openly using the powers of Catalan Minister and General Secretary” they have adopted an agreement for acquiring the ballot boxes which is “clearly against the law”.
Lastly, Borràs and Esteve are also accused of embezzlement, which could be punished with an 8 year jail sentence, for “launching a procedure which may generate public expense” and which is “oriented toward undertaking criminal actions which are in complete violation of the TC’s rulings and, therefore, absolutely unconnected with public service.”
Borràs: Spain has a “phobia of ballot boxes”
Borràs accused the Spanish executive of “making a fool of itself” by encouraging a “political lawsuit” which has “no reason for being”. “What we are doing is within our competencies; the administrative proceeding is impeccable and follows the law,” she said referring to the process to buy the ballot boxes for the referendum for which she has been sued Thus, she accused the Spanish State of having a “phobia of ballot boxes, of democracy and of having dictatorial ways”. “The Spanish State doesn’t allow political debate, prosecutes the Parliament’s Bureau, prosecutes two officials for initiating the ballot boxes purchase,” explained Borràs. “Who would want to live in a country like that?” she asked rhetorically.
Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, also showed his support for Borràs and Esteve. “We will put out the ballot boxes and the citizens will cast their votes. None of these are crimes!” he said on Twitter. In a similar vein, Catalan VP, Oriol Junqueras, described himself as “co-responsible for each and every one of the Government’s decisions oriented toward defending democracy and guaranteeing the right to vote.” The President of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell, also expressed her solidarity with Borràs and Esteve through the social networks. “All my support to the Catalan Minister. The ballot boxes are not a crime but a basic tool for democracy,” she tweeted.