Spain’s high court in Catalonia will investigate Quim Torra for defying orders to remove yellow ribbons and other symbols deemed as partisan from public buildings, after the public prosecutor filed a criminal lawsuit against the president.

Prosecutors accuse Torra of criminal disobedience for “repeatedly ignoring” rulings that symbols in support of jailed and exiled pro-independence leaders must be taken down. If found guilty, the head of the Catalan government could be suspended from office.

Spain’s electoral authority ordered the removal of banners from the government headquarters’ façade following a complaint by opposition party Ciutadans, arguing that they would prejudice the neutrality of public institutions during the upcoming election campaigns.

Freedom of expression

The initial debate centered on the yellow ribbon symbols in support of prosecuted leaders, but Torra’s response of covering them up with white ribbons led the electoral authority to insist they also be removed.

In response, Torra has launched his own criminal lawsuit against the electoral authority. The Catalan president argues that the board has breached official duty and defends the displaying of yellow ribbons on the grounds of freedom of expression.

The current banner on the balcony of the government base, calling for “freedom of expression and opinion”, has been approved.

The current banner on the balcony of the government base, calling for “freedom of expression and opinion”, has been approved. Local authorities have meanwhile resorted to satirical solutions to get around the ruling.