The Catalan foreign minister, Bernat Solé, began to face a trial on Monday for his role in the 2017 referendum as mayor of Agramunt, a village in western Catalonia. The government member sat in the dock at the Catalan high court with the public prosecutor requesting a 1.5-year disqualification for having disobeyed the Constitutional Court and helping the referendum take place in his village. The attorney general also requests a fine of €24,000.

If Solé was disqualified, he would be ousted as foreign minister – yet, the Catalan high court’s sentences are not final, so in order to avoid it, he could still file an appeal before the Supreme Court, who would ultimately decide his fate. On Monday morning, Solé was supported by a number of representatives of the pro-independence parties, institutions and entities outside the court.

During the session, he stated that he did not take part in the organization of the vote in Agramunt. He said that he took part in a debate on the referendum in his village, but as a political representative and not as mayor.  He also said that he did not grant access to the school for the vote, but he did try to avoid damages to the educational institution by Spain’s Guardia Civil police trying to persuade the vote organizers to not hide the ballot boxes inside the center.

Catalonia held an independence vote on October 1, 2017 although Spain’s government and courts prohibited it. As a result, a number of judicial cases were launched, including that of the then cabinet members and leading activists, which ended in nine ndividuals sentenced to between 9 and 13 years behind bars. While other government members exiled and remained untried, several other opened and already closed causes stemming from the 2017 independence push affected the police leadership, high-ranking officials, businesspeople, activists and mayors such as Solé.

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