Referendum announcement to be used in complaint against Catalan Minister
Barcelona (ACN).-The Public Prosecutor has asked the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) to use the announcement June 9th of the independence referendum's date and question by Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, as evidence against the Minister of Government, Meritxell Borràs. The High Court must still decide if Borràs and her secretary will be charged for initiating the procedures to purchase ballot boxes. From the public prosecutor's point of view, the announcement of the referendum is one of the elements that the High Court should take into consideration when deciding whether or not to formally admit the complaint. The public prosecutor's office has also asked the High court to speed up the process.
The two-page brief presented on Tuesday and signed by the High Public Prosecutor of Catalonia, José María Romero de Tejada, bolstered the 52-page complaint presented on May 16 against Borràs, which was ordered by the general State public prosecutor, José Manuel Maza.
Since the court had not come yet to any resolution about the complaint, the public prosecutor's office used the announcement of the date and question of the referendum for putting more arguments on the table to push for the complaint's formal admission by the court. The public prosecutor admitted that even though the referendum announcement is not accompanied by any legally binding action, it was clearly relevant for judging the illicit use of the supply materials, that is, the ballot boxes. Moreover, the public prosecutor argued that the solemn announcement of the date and question had been underscored by the support demonstration on Sunday in Barcelona, which was organized by Òmnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly and which Meritxell Borràs and a large part of the Catalan government attended.
Finally, the public prosecutor's office pointed out that the procedure for the purchase of the ballot boxes has moved forward, and that there are already two companies that have presented offers and would receive public money to complete what the public prosecutor considered to be an illicit objective. Therefore, the public prosecutor considered it appropriate to present the additional information to the High Court of Catalonia in order to help it make a decision on this issue.
In the initial complaint filed against Borràs and her First Secretary, the public prosecutor had argued that beginning the paperwork for the purchase of the ballot boxes violates the resolutions of the Constitutional Court. According to the public prosecutor, even though the announcement of the purchase published in the Official Government Announcement Bulletin (DOGC) is described as a purchase of ballot boxes “for Catalan regional elections, popular consultations, and other forms of civic participation” within the framework of the Electoral Law, in reality the aim was to “to formally conceal the preparation for the referendum through a formula of offer” without specifying the objective nor the public funds that will be used.
The document presented by the prosecutor justifies the accusations of disobedience, arguing that the Catalan Minister and her secretary, “are openly and consciously disobeying their duty of obeying the Constitution” as well as the resolutions and orders of the Constitutional Court “which prevent or block any initiative which intends to unilaterally alter the constitutional framework”. According to the public prosecutor’s office, these actions “are evidence of a rebellious attitude toward disobeying the resolutions of the Constitutional Court”. The two are also accused of continuous prevarication, because “they are openly using their authorities as Minister and Secretary General of the Department of Government against the legal order,” the public prosecutor argued. According to the text, they have done so without “legal authority” and through an “incorrect use of public functions”.
Finally, the public prosecutor accused the Catalan Minister and her First Secretary of misappropriation of public funds –which entails prison sentences of between four and eight years–for “having started a procedure that if fully carried out will generate public expense” and which is “directed at carrying out criminal actions radically opposed to the resolutions of the Constitutional Court.
Since several weeks have already passed since the presentation of the complaint against the Minister, and a responsible judge at the admissions court was only designated a few days ago, the public prosecutor's office expressed its interest in a quick resolution, given the current course of events.