CATALAN INDEPENDENCE DRIVE

Catalan premier promises elections if he is removed from his role

Quim Torra is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on an appeal against his ban from public office, which was handed down after he was found guilty of disobedience

Catalan premier Quim Torra.
Catalan premier Quim Torra.Massimiliano Minocri

The Catalan regional premier Quim Torra stated on Wednesday that if the Supreme Court upholds a ruling barring him from office, and the regional parliament abides by that sentence, then elections will be called in the northeastern Spanish region.

“If the Catalan parliament gets to the point of removing my authority, I’m sure we will be left in a caretaker capacity for several months and then there will be elections,” he said in an interview with the Ràdio 4 station, which was reported by Europa Press.

If the Catalan parliament gets to the point of removing my authority, I’m sure we will be left in a caretaker capacity for several months and then there will be elections

Catalan premier Quim Torra

Magistrates are considering an appeal by Torra against a ruling by the Catalan regional High Court, which in December found him guilty of disobedience for refusing to remove pro-independence banners from public buildings during an election campaign, something that violated regulations on political neutrality. Based on the regional court’s decision, which bars Torra from office for a period of 18 months, Spain’s Central Electoral Board (JEC) agreed to strip the separatist premier of his lawmaker credentials in the Catalan parliament.

Torra on Friday insisted that he will not obey the JEC, and called the Supreme Court’s decision “a new, serious and unacceptable violation of the sovereignty of the Catalan parliament.” He also recalled that the regional chamber, which is controlled by a pro-independence majority, last week approved a motion calling the JEC’s decision “a coup.” On Friday, the Catalan premier used this expression again.

The speaker of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, said on Wednesday that the chamber would fight for Torra to stay in his role “until the final consequences, from all points of view.” He continued saying that “the parliament has taken its position by choosing Torra [as regional premier] and also ratifying him. We have the political and legal legitimacy.”

Ciudadanos and the PP want the Catalan parliament to begin talks to find a new candidate for premier

On Wednesday, the speaker’s committee in the Catalan parliament voted to maintain Torra as a deputy, in spite of the JEC ruling. The agreement counted on the support of the pro-Catalan independence parties Together for Catalonia (JxC), the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), as well as Catalunya en Comú-Podem and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). The committee also agreed to file an appeal at the Supreme Court against the JEC’s decision, which, it says, it considers to be “void,” on the basis that it “does not have the powers to terminate a deputy.”

Opposition parties Ciudadanos (Citizens) and the Popular Party (PP) – both of which are fiercely opposed to Catalan independence – have argued that, according to the rules of the parliament, only a deputy can occupy the role of regional premier. The PP has called on Torrent to begin talks to find a new candidate for premier, while Ciudadanos has threatened legal action should the speaker’s committee refuse to comply.

Sources from the PSC explained that they had voted to keep Torra in his role on the basis that the parliament cannot remove him as premier until the Supreme Court has issued its final sentence.

Two-day leave for ‘the Jordis’

El País, Barcelona

The Catalan regional justice department has granted a 48-hour leave to Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, two of the nine pro-independence leaders who were handed down prison sentences by the Supreme Court for their role in the 2017 secessionist drive in the northeastern Spanish region.

Sànchez, the former president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and Cuixart, the president of Òmnium Cultural, both of which are pro-independence civic associations, are serving their sentences in Lledoners prison in Barcelona province, and are eligible to request up to 36 days of release a year.

Sànchez and Cuixart, who are often referred to as 'the Jordis,' faced trial in the Supreme Court for their role in the events of the fall of 2017 in Catalonia, which saw an illegal referendum on independence and a subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

The pair were eventually convicted of sedition for their involvement in a protest outside the regional Economic Affairs Department on September 20, 2017, which, according to the public prosecutor, was aimed at "impeding" Civil Guard raids ahead of the planned referendum.

Sànchez and Cuixart were placed in pre-trial custody without bail on October 16, 2017, and have remained behind bars since then.

With additional reporting by Josep Catà and Fernando J. Pérez.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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