Monday, January 17

Puigdemont recuses Arnaldo and Espejel for their “close relationship” with the PP

This Thursday they were Oriol Junqueras, Raül Romeva and Dolors Bassa. And this Friday it was the turn of Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig. The former president of the Generalitat and the politicians of the Junts have asked the Constitutional Court that two of its new magistrates, Enrique Arnaldo and Concepción Espejel, withdraw from the resources on the cause of the process due to their “close relationship” with the PP.

In separate briefs, to which has had access, the defense of the Junts politicians, exercised by lawyer Gonzalo Boye, lists the reasons why, in their opinion, Arnaldo and Espejel lack the necessary impartiality to form part of the Constitutional deliberations on the process.

Puigdemont recalls that Arnaldo and Espejel have been proposed as magistrates by the PP, a party whose president, Pablo Casado, “has shown a notorious interest” in the imprisonment of the indicted pro-independence politicians. In these circumstances, the writings abound, “it is impossible to sustain” that Arnaldo and Espejel “could have any appearance of impartiality.”

With the challenges raised by the pro-independence politicians, the doubts about the suitability of Arnaldo and Espejel, who came to be removed from the Gürtel trial due to their proximity to the PP in his stage in the National High Court, return to the front page a few days after they PP and PSOE will close the agreement to renew the Constitutional. Those of the procés are the first, but they may not be the only procedures in which the parties ask to separate Arnaldo and Espejel for the same reason: their closeness to the PP.

In the case of Arnaldo, Puigdemont and the Junts politicians add that he signed, in September 2017, a manifesto called ‘Stop the coup’, which asked that “the full weight of the law” fall on the Government for the 1-O referendum, which adds another reason for loss of impartiality.

Puigdemont also points out that Arnaldo considered “sick of sectarianism” those who disagreed with the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office to file a complaint for the crime of rebellion against Catalan politicians in 2017. The defense affirms that there are “innumerable” times that Arnaldo has revealed his “absolute lack of impartiality” on the case.

Another of the reasons for recusal adduced by the defense is that there is a relationship of “friendship” between Judge Arnaldo and the late State Attorney General, José Manuel Maza, who filed the complaints for rebellion in 2017, as well as with the president of the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court, Manuel Marchena, the magistrate of the same Chamber Antonio del Moral, and the lawyer of the Central Electoral Board, Manuel Delgado-Iribarren.

Regarding Espejel, the brief indicates her previous condition as president of the Criminal Chamber of the National High Court, a position during which she had a direct or indirect participation with some lawsuits in the causes that affect the challengers. He also mentions the “close connection” with the PP and his affiliation to the Professional Association of the Magistracy, which in his opinion has shown “excessive belligerence” against pro-independence politicians.

Moreover, Puigdemont places as a motive for disqualification the private vote that Espejel signed in his stage in the National High Court in favor of the conviction for sedition against Major Josep Lluís Trapero, although he does not ask that the magistrate who was rapporteur for his acquittal withdraw. , Ramón Sáez, also promoted to the Constitutional Assembly after his recent renewal.

The Constitutional Court had already experienced a similar episode of challenges from two magistrates who had spoken at public events on the process. After the challenges of the pro-independence politicians, the judges Cándido Conde-Pumpido and Antonio Narváez abstained from the sentences that endorsed the instruction, the trial and the conviction of the Supreme Court, with the private vote of the progressive magistrates Juan Antonio Xiol and María Luisa Balaguer , who considered the prison sentences disproportionate.