Catalan MEPs report “disgraceful and anti-democratic” 9-N sentence to the European Parliament
Strasbourg (CNA).- The ban from holding public office imposed on those responsible for allowing the 9-N symbolic vote on independence in 2014 has been reported to the members of the European Parliament. Catalan MEPs Josep Maria Terricabras and Jordi Solé, representing left wing pro-independence party ERC and Ramon Tremosa, member of the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) sent a letter to their colleagues in the Euro chamber stating that they considered the verdict “disgraceful and anti-democratic”. On Monday, Catalonia’s Supreme Court sentenced former Catalan President Artur Mas to a two-year ban from public office for staging a symbolic vote on independence and condemned former vice-president Joana Ortega and former Education Minister Irene Rigau to 21 months and 18 months out of public office respectively. However, “this decision will not deter the Catalans' will to express their views at the ballot box”, warned the Catalan MEPs.
In their joint letter, Terricabras, Solé and Tremosa emphasise that “more than 2.3 million eligible voters took part” in the 9-N, which they define as “a symbolic exercise of democracy and political participation”. They also point out that “the Catalan Government has tirelessly requested to start a dialogue with the Spanish authorities on the terms to hold a negotiated referendum on the political future of Catalonia” but lament that “once again” the Spanish government “turned a question that should be debated and discussed with dialogue and responsibility into a political trial”. In this vein, the signatories remind that “the Council of Europe already warned this weekend about the politicisation of the Constitutional Court”.
The Catalan MEPs assure that the sentence against Mas, Ortega and Rigau “will not deter the Catalans' will to express their views at the ballot box” butreinforce them to “continue the struggle for the right to organise a legally binding referendum on Catalonia's political future this autumn”.
Tremosa, Solé and Terricabras also insist on Mas’ will to appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court and “to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary”. Regarding the sentence against former Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau, who is currently an MP, they warn that “forcing her to resign as a result of the current political trial” would not only constitute “a violation of the democratic will” of the Catalan citizens but “speed up the Catalan independence process”.
Venice Commission warned of the politicisation of Spanish Constitutional Court
The Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts, the Venice Commission, stated last Friday that Spain “should improve certain amendments to the Organic Law on its Constitutional Court”, which attribute to the Court the task to execute its own judgments, although it also notes that these amendments do not contradict European standards. The new powers attributed to the Court include the suspension of officials refusing to implement judgments.
On the basis of a comparative overview, the Commission finds that the responsibility of the Constitutional Court to contribute to the execution of its own decisions is exceptional and this task is usually attributed to other state powers. Attributing the overall and direct responsibility for the execution of the Constitutional Court’s decision to the Court itself “should be reconsidered in order to promote the perception of the Court as a neutral arbiter, as judge of the laws”, said the European body adding that “the Court should not act on its own motion but only upon request by the parties”.
They specially focused on the “heavy repetitive, coercive penalty payments applied to individuals and the suspension from office of officials”.