Reus Mayor, three councillors in court hearing about petition against police violence on 1 October

Three CUP councillors, also called to give evidence, failed to appear in court

On Thursday the mayor of Reus and six town councillors were summoned to give evidence before the Reus Magistrates’ Court. The hearing was in relation to a court case involving the councillors and six others, following charges brought by Spain’s National Police on suspicion of incitement to hatred, for having signed a petition against police violence on 1 October. According to the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (HCJC), of the seven elected officials that were summoned this Thursday, only four have appeared: the mayor of Reus, Carles Pellicer (PDECat), and the councillors Montserrat Vilella (PDECat), Noemí Llauradó (ERC) and Jordi Cervera (Ara Reus).

Pellicer stated that "signing a petition should never be a crime. Our intention at every stage of the [independence] process has been to make people’s freedom compatible with peace, coexistence and civic behaviour". Speaking for the Catalan News Agency, he added that this coexistence was shaken on 1 October and that there were people "upset" as a result of the police violence on the day of the referendum. "The petition was in response to the wishes of our voters", added the mayor, who says he fails to understand how they can be under investigation for the crime of incitement to hatred. Pellicer stated that if he were to find himself in a similar situation to the aftermath of 1 October "he would do the same again in order to promote peaceful coexistence".

As for the other town councillors, Councillor Mariona Quadrada (CUP) was not called to give evidence as her lawyer was due in court on another matter, while Marta Llorens and Oriol Ciurana (also belonging to the CUP) failed to give evidence as well, since neither of them appeared in court. The court usher called the names of the councillors in the waiting room and the judicial office without success, while their lawyer waited for them in court. The three CUP councillors did actually appear at the doors of the court building at the appointed time in order to declare that they would not enter "a Spanish court". "It is not the justice system which we answer to" stated Ciurana.

The four councillors who gave statements this Thursday only agreed to respond to questions put to them by their own legal counsel. A total of 13 people are under investigation in the case which has been opened by the Court of Reus: the mayor, six councillors, four firefighters and two managers of a gym. The firefighters are also accused of misuse of public funds. Those who are not elected officials have been called to give evidence this Friday.

The case is the result of charges brought by Spain’s National Police against Reus’ political representatives, who on 3 October signed a petition objecting to the police violence during the referendum and calling for the Spanish Police and Guardia Civil officers stationed in Catalonia to be withdrawn. The charges also include the demonstrations outside the Spanish Police headquarters in Reus and Hotel Gaudí, where several police officers were staying.

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