Even though it has been nearly eighteen months since Barcelona’s Examining Court 13 pressed charges against 30 current and former Catalan government officials over the 2017 independence referendum, the judicial probe is far from over and the start of the trial is nowhere in sight. Now the Prosecution has requested a one-year extension of the examining phase, in light of its “high complexity” and the large number of individuals being probed.
In a statement published by Spanish newswire EFE —which Public Prosecution sources have confirmed to this newspaper—, the Prosecutor assigned to the case has asked the court to extend the investigative phase. The request was submitted to Court 13 on August 4 and our sources claim that it hasn’t been examined yet.
The case being handled by Barcelona’s Court 13 stems from a complaint filed by a private lawyer in early 2017 following a public statement by judge Santiago Vidal, the former ERC senator, who asserted —among other things— that the Catalan government had used Catalan taxpayers’ records in order to prepare the independence vote slated for October that year. The investigation led to a case involving over forty defendants, although charges have been dropped for about ten of them (including Vidal) since the inquest was launched over three years ago.
However, the Guardia Civil and Prosecution reports became the basis of the Supreme Court case which eventually led to the conviction of Oriol Junqueras, Carme Forcadell, Dolors Bassa, Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Raül Romeva and Quim Forn, who were sentenced to serve between 9 and 13 years in jail. Other former Catalan ministers were barred from holding public office: Meritxell Borràs, Carles Mundó and Santi Vila.
The Prosecutor’s latest statement —over three and a half years since the inquest kicked off— claims that there is still evidence to be gathered because new indictments have been issued and Spain’s Audiencia court still needs to examine several appeals, including the one which the Prosecutor intends to file against the closure of the examining phase. The Public Prosecutor claims that, unless the probe is granted an extension, there will be no time to gather all the evidence and the right of the defendants to a fair trial will be infringed upon.