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The Supreme Court confirms the ineligibility of the Regional President of Catalonia



           


Quim Torra must relinquish his post (photo: Generalitat de Catalunya)
Quim Torra must relinquish his post (photo: Generalitat de Catalunya)
SPAIN. Quim Torra is sentenced to one and a half years of ineligibility for any elective public office for disobedience. The Spanish Supreme Court confirmed this on Monday 28 September 2020 after the case was appealed by Quim Torra. This decision leads to the immediate dismissal of the pro-independence president of the region (Generalitat) of Catalonia. His only appeal remains to question the Constitutional Council on this ruling, but this is not suspensive.

Quim Torra (of the Ensemble pour la Catalunya party) had refused "repeatedly and stubbornly", according to the grounds for the ruling, to remove a banner and yellow ribbons - advocating the release of independence leaders who have been in prison since October 2019 - hung on the regional government headquarters building before the April 2019 legislative elections. On 19 December 2019, the High Court of Catalonia sentenced him to this sentence, which he must now serve. He will also have to pay a fine of €30,000.

While the Supreme Court has recognised that Quim Torra was free to carry out demonstrations and acts reflecting his political identity, it denies him the right to disobey the constitutional body in charge of ensuring respect for electoral processes. In this case, the Central Electoral Council (Junta Electoral Central) had brought the case to court. Clearly, it did not rule on the poster itself but on its use during the electoral period on the grounds that it violated the "principle of neutrality to which administrations in general must submit".

 

Pere Aragones appointed as interim president

As soon as the result of the appeal was announced, the Court of First Instance informed him that the sanction would take effect immediately; and asked Pere Aragones (of the Republican Left Party of Catalonia - ERC - allied to the regional executive), vice-president of the Generalitat, to act as interim president of the Catalan government. The regional parliament will then have two months to appoint a new president from within its midst. After this period, new regional elections will be held.

Quim Torra had already declared on 23 September 2020 that the court's ruling was "a political persecution against Catalan independence fighters by the Spanish state" and criticised the court's lack of neutrality.

From his Brussels exile, Carles Puigdemont, former president of Catalonia, who was succeeded by Quim Torra, reacted by sending a message on Twitter referring to "a corrupt state from the Crown to the judiciary" and denouncing that it "continues to decide in the name of the Catalans".

Catalonia had declared its secession from Spain in 2017, after a referendum deemed illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, which obtained 90% "yes" to the proposal. The Mossos d'Esquadra (regional police) have already been given full alert in Catalonia in anticipation of this verdict and for fear of riots in Catalonia. The two main pro-independence movements, the ANC (Catalan National Assembly) and the CDR (Committees for the Defence of the Republic), have already called for demonstrations from Monday 28 September 2020 in the late afternoon.


 


Frédéric Dubessy


Monday, September 28th 2020



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