Catalan Mayor arrested for refusing to take down pro-independence flag

Article published at Catalan News Agency, 4th November 2016

Photo: The mayor of Berga, Montse Venturós, after testifying before the judge (by ACN)

Barcelona (CNA).- The police arrested this Friday Montse Venturós, Mayor of Berga, a small village 80 kilometres from Barcelona, for an alleged ‘electoral crime’. Pro-independence radical left CUP Venturós is accused of ignoring the Electoral Roll Office’s warrants and maintaining aloft the pro-independence flag which hung on the façade of the Town Hall on two election days: the 27-S Catalan Elections and the 20-D Spanish Elections. CUP have already expressed their opposition to the arrest and have called on members to demonstrate before Berga’s court in support of Venturós. In a similar vein, Parliament’s President, Carme Forcadell, who has been lately accused of ‘disobedience’ for allowing the pro-independence roadmap to be put to vote in the Catalan Chamber, also expressed her support to Venturós, via Twitter. “Neither the judicialisation of politics nor the court will stop Catalans that want to decide their future”, she said.  The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, stated that “freedom of speech is not a crime” and the Catalan Government spokeswoman, Neus Munté, also backed Venturós and regretted the “democratic deficit and the PP Government’s persecution” oft pro-independence forces.

The Catalan Police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, arrived at Venturós’ house this morning at around 8.00 CET and took her to Berga’s police station, where she is waiting to be brought before the judge. Venturós would have to testify for refusing to take down the Catalonia pro-independence flag, which adorned the façade of Berga’s Town Hall on two election days: the 27-S Catalan Elections and the 20-D Spanish Elections. Thus, she is accused of an alleged ‘electoral crime’ for ignoring the Electoral Roll Office’s warrants. Venturós has twice refused to testify before Berga’s court, on the 5th of April and the 17th of October. 

In an interview, the CUP MP and Venturós’ lawyer, Benet Salellas, criticised the Catalan Ministry for Home Affairs, which is responsible for the police. He accused the body of obeying an order from the Spanish justice which “is against Catalonia’s pro-independence process”. Salellas also expressed his disapproval of the arrest procedures. “Venturós was arrested while alone at home: the normal procedure would have been to do so during the day and in the Town Hall, so that everyone could see what was going on”, he explained.

Once before the court, Salellas said, Venturós will “explain the reason why she refused to take down the pro-independence flag” and will criticise an arrest which has “political motivations”. 

CUP members were the first to call for demonstrating before Berga’s court in support of Venturós. 

Catalan Government reacts to the arrest

 

Read the full article here.

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