Spain’s Attorney General, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, has secured almost unanimous support from the country’s top prosecutors to go ahead with legal action against Catalan leader Artur Mas in connection with the non-binding referendum on self-rule that was held on November 9.
Torres-Dulce had already made the decision to prosecute Mas for disobeying an injunction from the Constitutional Court, which had put the referendum on hold pending a decision on its compliance with the Spanish Constitution.
But when the Attorney’s Office of Catalonia expressed opposition to the plan, the attorney general turned for support to the Junta de Fiscales de Sala, an advisory board of 25 top prosecutors whose verdicts are not binding but highly influential.
In a press release, the Attorney General’s Office said that “the great majority” of Junta members supported pressing charges over the Catalan vote. “As a result, the Attorney General’s Office will launch the opportune legal actions before the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia.”
The spokesman for the Catalan government, Francesc Homs, said that they are “ready” to defend themselves from any prosecution, and that if charges are finally pressed, they will bring “extraordinary international ridicule” to Spain.
The charges brought against Mas will not be known until the complaint is formally filed, although Torres-Dulce gave the Junta a report defending that the Catalan premier, his deputy Joana Ortega and regional education commissioner Irene Rigau may be guilty of disobedience, breach of public duties, abuse of power and misuse of public funds.
Torres-Dulce secured support from 22 members of the board, with only two voting against, following a four-hour meeting.
The only thing I can and will do is to respect the decisions made by the Attorney’s Office” Prime Minister Rajoy
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that the government has done its duty and now it is up to the Attorney’s Office to take all relevant decisions, which he will respect “one way or another.”
“The only thing I can do and will do is to respect the decisions made by the Attorney’s Office,” he said in Congress on Wednesday. “I think that is the government’s obligation and that is what happens in a country where everyone plays the role they are tasked with.”
Rajoy’s words sought to contradict claims made by state prosecutors last week that the government was meddling with their work in order to ensure that Mas would get prosecuted over the secession vote, in which two million Catalans expressed 80 percent support for independence.
While Rajoy called the symbolic vote, which had a turnout rate of around 30 percent, a “failure,” the Catalan government is trying to use the results as leverage to obtain authorization for a more formal referendum.