Article published at Catalan News Agency, February 6th 2017.
Photo: Former Catalan President, Artur Mas, former Catalan Vice-president, Joana Ortega and former Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau, before entering Barcelona’s High Court (by ACN)
Barcelona (CNA).- The 9-N symbolic vote on independence, which took place in 2014 and registered a turnout of more than 2.3 million people, was “the consequence of wide parliamentary agreements and explicit and reiterated mandates of the Chamber” rather than “a personal whim”. This is what former Catalan President, Artur Mas, testified before the court this Monday when accused of alleged disobedience and breach of trust when allowing the non-binding consultation. Catalan vice-president, Joana Ortega and former Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau will also have to declare before the judge for the same crimes and may face a 10-year ban from public office if convicted. Mas attributed the political responsibility for the 9-N to himself and insisted that the symbolic vote took place “after democratic elections which nobody refuted nor questioned”.
Mas, who refused the answer the Public Prosecutor and the Popular Accusation, explained that the 9-N was “unstoppable” since it was at the hands of volunteers rather than under the Government’s charge. According to Mas, during the 15 days prior to the symbolic vote many important decisions were made to ensure the volunteers’ access to the “logistics” and guarantee the consultation’s success.
The former Catalan President stated that the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) didn’t warn of any legal consequences for promoting a participative process, like the State’s Attorney ordered. Moreover, he insisted that the TC didn’t make any clarification on this matter, despite of the Government’s repeated demands.
Ortega: Listening to people can’t be a crime
Former Catalan vice-president Joana Ortega stated that listening to the citizens “is the core of democracy” and that it “can’t be considered a crime”. During her testimony before Barcelona’s High Court, Ortega insisted that the 9-N “was executed by volunteers” and that “all the previous task carried out by the Government was done and ready by then”. She insisted that that she never received any notice and that the Catalan executive wasn’t sure what the TC’s sentence exactly implied.
Rigau: I wasn’t aware of disobeying the TC
“By the time we received the TC’s notice all the machinery was stopped. Then another thing was about to start”, explained former Catalan Minister for Education, Irene Rigau, emphasising that she had “an absolute peace of mind”. She praised Catalonia’s tradition regarding volunteering and insisted that she wasn’t aware of disobeying the TC “amongst all the documents and political climate” the moment entailed.