Catalonia’s former parliament speaker, Roger Torrent, along with three other ex-members of the chamber’s bureau, are in court this Wednesday to give statements for their disobedience cases. The officials are accused of disobedience for allowing votes on self-determination and against the monarchy in November 2019.

The current business minister in the Catalan government, Roger Torrent, told the court that he did not prevent the debates on the monarchy and self-determination arguing that the state cannot halt any parliamentary debate it does not like. According to him, the chamber’s lawyers were not explicit about the illegality of the debates and only expressed doubts, recalling the warning of the Constitutional Court.

Former parliament bureau members Josep Costa, Eusebi Campdepadrós and Ariadna Delgado are also in court to give statements. Magistrates will hear their declarations as part of their inquiry to decide if the case needs to go to trial. If the case does go to trial and they are ultimately found guilty of disobedience, the four could face a ban from public office, joining a long list of Catalan officials sacked for their role in the independence push, including former president Quim Torra and members of the cabinet that called a referendum and attempted to break away from Spain in 2017.

The precedent of Carme Forcadell

Torrent’s predecessor, the pro-independence activist-turned-politician Carme Forcadell, was given an 11.5-year prison sentence for sedition for allowing lawmakers to declare independence from Spain in 2017. However, she was released in June when the Spanish government moved to pardon the convicted leaders of the 2017 independence push.

The court announced last March that it was admitting a criminal lawsuit from Spain’s public prosecutor against Torrent and three of his former colleagues at the chamber’s bureau: Josep Costa, Eusebi Campdepadrós and Adriana Delgado. They’re all members of Catalonia’s two ruling pro-independence parties. Torrent is accused of contravening Spain’s Constitutional Court and authorizing votes that were deemed unlawful.

The motions were passed on 12 November 2019, with subsequent amendments on 26 November. They were backed by pro-independence parties, holding a majority of seats in the chamber. One of the texts stressed that parliament “reiterates and will reiterate as many times as MPs choose the disapproval of the monarchy, the defense of self-determination and the affirmation of the sovereignty of the people of Catalonia to decide their political future.”

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