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Public prosecutor ponders criminal charges over government’s TV ad encouraging Catalans to vote

Minister Turull denies TV ad is sly campaign to promote independence referendum: “Does it mention October 1? Does it mention a referendum?”

The public prosecutor is considering whether to press criminal charges over the Catalan government’s TV advert that encourages Catalans to exercise their right to decide in the run-up to the independence referendum slated for October 1, even though the ad does not mention the vote at all.

Prosecution sources claim that the Attorney General is weighing whether the broadcast and its content might qualify as a crime of disobedience against the instructions handed down by Spain’s Constitutional Court, which prohibit any action that promotes a referendum on independence.

The ad is ten seconds long and shows some railway tracks while a voice over narrator asks viewers whether they “will give up their capacity to decide”, which they “were born with”. The Catalan government’s spokesman, Jordi Turull, reacted by denying that the ad, which was first shown on TV last Monday, is an institutional campaign ahead of October 1. “Does it mention October 1? Does it mention a referendum?”, Turull asked, and he went on to state that the ad promotes values, like many other government ads have done before.

Given the possibility of legal action over the advertisement, Turull asked “What crime has been committed?” and remarked, ironically, that the public prosecution perhaps would prefer "a black and white ad, playing to the tune of Franco’s old newsreels”.

Unionist party Ciudadanos has requested that the ad be dropped, after it was first shown last Monday before the evening news on TV3, the Catalan public broadcaster.

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