The Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) has definitely suspended the governing party ‘Junts Pel Sí’ and radical left pro-independence CUP joint proposal to call a referendum in 2017. The resolution was already suspended by the magistrates but in a cautionary way, at the request of the Spanish Government. A decision which, according to Catalan Government Spokeswoman, Neus Munté “won’t change the will to call a referendum this year”. Munté emphasised that the joint resolution “was discussed and voted amongst the Catalan MPs in accordance to the freedom of speech” and that these MPs were “democratically elected”. The TC has also accepted the State Attorney and the Public Prosecutor’s petition to proceed with the criminal charges against Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell and the other members of the Parliament Bureau, for allowing a pro-independence debate in the Catalan Chamber.
In particular, the magistrates have found unconstitutional and therefore invalid the sections of the 206/XI resolution of the Parliament entitled ‘referendum’ and ‘constitutive process’.
The proposal 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 Parliament stated that they also “committed to activate all the legal mechanisms required for the referendum to take place and guarantee it’s legal standards”. Thus, “before the 31st of December a committee to launch, control and execute the referendum will be constituted”.
Moreover, it reinforces the unilateral way since “in the absence of a political agreement with the Spanish Government the committment remains unchanged”.
Case against Forcadell proceeds
Moreover, the magistrates agreed to open the door “for the Public Prosecutor’s Office to proceed and claim the correspondent 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.
They have also accepted the State Attorney’s petition to communicate the TC’s decision “in person” and warn the accused, the Catalan President and the rest of the executive of the consequences of failing to comply.
Thus, the magistrates didn’t accept the pleas presented by Forcadell and the other members of the Parliament Bureau, Lluís Corominas, Anna Simó, Ramona Barrufet and Joan Josep Nuet, 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.
Forcadell: “We can’t open the door to censorship”
Right after testifying before Barcelona’s High Court, Forcadell addressed the media and lamented the Spanish Government’s “use of the judicial power to limit the Parliament’s democratic right to debate”. “We can’t open the door to censorship because if we do, we won’t be able to close it again”, she warned and added that “no court could impede” the Parliament from “discussing independence”. “What happened today is inconceivable in a truly democratic state”, stated Forcadell because “ideas can’t be prosecuted under the penal code”.
The Parliament’s President considered bringing her before the court “another step” towards the Spanish State’s attempt to “violate the separation of powers”. Therefore, she warned that what is at risk with her trial “is not the political future of a person” but “democracy”. During the press conference the Parliament’s President thanked “the warmth and support” she received from many political representatives but especially that from the citizens. “The people never let you down”, she added.
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