Catalan president urges Spain’s judiciary boss to resign following outrage over anti-independence chat messages

Torra: “Whatever little confidence Spain’s justice system used to inspire, is gone for good now”

Today Catalan president Quim Torra has urged Carlos Lesmes, the president of Spain’s General Council of the Judiciary, to step down following the leak of shocking internal messages where members of the institution —several judges and magistrates— use offensive language against Catalonia’s independence leaders. In their chat, which started back on October 1 last year, the judges accuse the Catalan leaders of “staging a coup”, and they call them “Nazis”, “germs” and “viruses” while they argue against holding talks with them.

Speaking from Barcelona’s Palau de la Generalitat, president Torra announced that a legal brief is being readied with a view to lodging a complaint and that he has urged the Spanish authorities to name the judges who wrote the messages because “slurs, insults and hatred aimed at politicians and the general public who support independence indicate a bias that should disqualify them”. On this point, the Catalan president announced that he would be speaking to Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez later today so that the Public Prosecutor’s office may launch a probe in order to “hold those responsible to account”.

Speaking in strong terms, Torra decried again the lack of independence of Spain’s justice system. “Whatever little confidence Spain’s justice system used to inspire, is gone for good now. Independence supporters are afforded no legal security in Spain”, he remarked. In fact, he stated that “in a democracy, it is unacceptable for members of the judiciary to mock and threaten citizens” and he emphasised that “a large segment of the judiciary is not independent”. The Catalan leader referred to the messages published by several papers today as “proof that there is a total lack of impartiality, which undermines the pillars of the rule of of law”.

Once again, Quim Torra declared that the member of the Catalan government and all the indicted in the October 1 case “will not get a clean and fair trial” and he stressed that there are no other similar cases in Europe. For this reason, he demanded the release of the political prisoners and the free return of the exiles and that all charges be dropped. He also called on Europe to take action to “stop Spain’s authoritarian drift” because “the lack of freedom and an independent justice is a European problem and keeping quiet [about it] will merely encourage other European countries to act in the same manner [as Spain]”. He added that he will file a complaint with the European Commission urging it to take a stand.

The Judiciary Power remains silent

The General Council of the Judiciary remains tight-lipped on the controversy about the e-mail messages and has not made any comments about Torra’s request for Carlos Lesmes, the president of the Council, to step down. Sources in the judiciary have mentioned to this newspaper that the board of the Council held a meeting this morning, but the agenda did not include anything to do with the matter, as reported by Mariona Ferrer. They also pointed out that they have received no complaints in months about the e-mail messages published by eldiario.es and elmon.cat. If an investigation were launched, the same sources claim that it would be a lengthy process because all the parties involved would have to be heard. “If any sanctions were deemed necessary, it would not be decided overnight”, they added.

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