Two judicial secretaries from Catalonia’s Supreme Court hand delivered this Tuesday the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC)’s notice confirming the suspension of the Government’s plan to call a referendum in 2017. The Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and the Catalan Ministers were also informed of the consequences of failing to comply with the TC’s resolution. The magistrates first suspended the proposal to call a referendum in a cautionary way, at the request of the Spanish Government. However, last week the TC confirmed the definitive suspension of the proposal, which was presented and passed by governing party ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and radical left pro-independence CUP. On the same day, the TC also opened the door for the Public Prosecutor’s Office to proceed and claim the corresponding penal liability of the Parliament’s President Carme Forcadell and the rest of the Bureau’s members for “failing to fulfil” the TC’s rulings in this regard.

The members of the Catalan executive whom received and signed the TC’s notice were those present at the Government’s weekly meeting. Catalan Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget and the Catalan Minister for Home Affairs, Jordi Jané, were absent.

‘Junts Pel Sí’ and CUP’s joint proposal to call a referendum in 2017 was first suspended by the magistrates in a cautionary way in December, at the request of the Spanish Government. However, last week the TC confirmed the definitive suspension after considering its content “unconstitutional and therefore invalid”.

The bill, passed in October last year, approved the calling of a referendum in Catalonia “with or without Spain’s consent”. It reaffirmed “Catalonia’s imprescriptible and inalienable right to self-determination” and called the Government “to hold a binding referendum on Catalonia’s independence” which would have to take place “in September 2017 at the latest and have a clear and binary question”.

The proposal foresaw “activating all the legal procedures required” to call the referendum and at the same time “providing it with the legal coverage”. Moreover, the document established that before the end of 2016, “a committee to launch, control and execute the referendum will be created”. The Parliament also urged the Government “to immediately call a summit which gathers together all the political forces and social organisations which support Catalonia’s right to self-determination” in order to define the details of the referendum.

Case against Forcadell proceeds
Moreover, the magistrates agreed to open the door “for the Public Prosecutor’s Office to proceed and claim the corresponding penal liability” of Carme Forcadell, the Parliament’s Bureau Vice-president, Lluís Corominas, first secretary Anna Simó, third secretary Joan Josep Nuet and fourth secretary Ramon Barrufet for “failing to fulfil” the TC’s rulings in this regard.

Thus, the magistrates didn’t accept the pleas presented by Forcadell and the other members of the Bureau, which claimed that the debate on the pro-independence roadmap had an “autonomic nature” and didn’t contravene the TC’s resolutions. They also warned that “by prosecuting” those who defend freedom of speech “democracy disappears”.

By accepting the State Attorney and the Public Prosecutor’s petition, the magistrates could open a new case against Forcadell or add the new particularities to the pending trial, which started on the 16th of December at Barcelona’s High Court.

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