Following orders from the Spanish Constitutional Court, the Senior Prosecutor of Catalonia has filed a new lawsuit against Carme Forcadell over the approval of the resolution for an independence referendum, which had already been suspended by the Guarantee Court. The prosecutor has asked the Supreme Court of Justice of Catalonia to expand its existing investigation into Forcadell, the Speaker of the Catalan parliament, to encompass these new charges.
The prosecution is also pressing charges against the vice-president of the board of the parliament, Lluís Corominas; the board’s first secretary, Anna Simó, and its fourth secretary, Ramona Barrufet. They are accused of crimes of disobedience and dereliction of duty.
The Superior Court of Justice has confirmed that it has received the prosecutors’ filing. Carlos Ramos has been named as the judge responsible for the case. He will have to argue whether or not he believes the new charges should be admitted and will have to specify exactly what should be investigated. He is one of the members of the civil and criminal chamber named by the Catalan parliament and was also one of the judges in the trial against Artur Mas, Joana Ortega and Irene Rigau for their roles in the unofficial 2014 independence referendum.
Intent to “blow up” the constitutional system
The lawsuit notes that the resolution for the referendum approved by the Catalan parliament and annulled by the Constitutional Court (TC) wanted to “unlink” the Catalan institutions from the constitutional system, “blowing up the system of the distribution of powers”. As such, it accuses Forcadell, Corominas, Simó and Barrufet of not just ignoring the Constitution, but also of seeking “its open and deliberate abolition”.
The lawsuit places special importance on the role of Forcadell. It says that she was “aware” of the TC’s verdict which struck down resolution 1/XI of 9 November 2015 and that her behaviour in allowing the vote on the referendum resolution “is yet more evidence of her obstinate and permanent wish to disobey constitutional orders”. It says the same of the other accused, as regards the crime of disobedience.
The Prosecutor excludes Nuet
On the other hand, the lawsuit exempts the third secretary of the parliament’s board, Joan Josep Nuet (of EUiA, United and Alternative Left), even though he twice voted in favour of including the referendum resolution in the plenary assembly’s votes on 6 October 2016. It says that Nuet "didn’t, unlike the others indicted, aim to disobey the Constitutional Court’s orders, nor advance a political project with complete disdain for the Constitution”.
The Prosecutor took into account the eco-socialist’s record when exempting him from the lawsuit. It says that his six years in Parliament “have shown his unwillingness to join a political project to unilaterally break with the constitutional system”. As such, it believes that Nuet didn’t willingly disobey the Constitutional Court, unlike those it does charge, but that he did it “in the erroneous belief that he was fulfilling his obligations as a member of board of the parliament”.
As well as the crime of serious disobedience, the Prosecutor also accuses Forcadell, Corominas, Simó and Barrufet of dereliction of duty. It claims that their decisions were not only arbitrary, but were also aimed at reaching agreements implying the specific rejection of obligatory compliance with the Constitution.
The lawsuit also says that Forcadell and the others cannot shield themselves behind parliamentary immunity. It says that this privilege only protects their “freedom of speech” when voting and speaking in the parliament, but doesn’t “immunise” them if they carry out “manifestly illegal actions”.
As well as requesting that Forcadell, Corominas, Simó and Barrufet are questioned, the prosecutor also asks the Supreme Court of Justice of Catalonia to summon Enric Millo (the current representative of the central government in Catalonia) because of his role as a Partido Popular MP at the time of the vote in question. Other requested witnesses are the second vice-president of the board of the parliament, José Maria Espejo-Saavedra Conesa; the second secretary of the board, David Pérez Ibáñez, and the Ciudadanos MP Carlos Carrizosa.