Despite the attempts to return the sovereign process to the political arena, the beginning of the 2021-2022 judicial course only reminds us that there is a process left for a while in the courts. September and October are loaded with statements from those investigated in different cases, such as the former president of the Parliament and current Minister of Business, Roger Torrent, and the former Foreign Minister Raül Romeva.
The judge investigates ex-minister Romeva and nine high-ranking officials for the expenses to internationalize the process
The coming months will also serve to see if the Prosecutor’s Office maintains its requests for high penalties in cases related to the sovereign process, both against politicians in relation to the 2017 referendum and against protesters due to the riots that followed the 2019 Supreme Court ruling. And the trial will also be set for two corruption cases that symbolize an entire era: those that will put the Pujol Ferrusola family and businessmen and former Convergència politicians on the bench for the 3% case.
Torrent, the first
The first to climb the stairs of the Palace of Justice in Barcelona on September 15 will be Torrent and the other three former pro-independence members of the Parliamentary Board of the last legislature. The four are being investigated for a crime of disobedience for allowing the processing and voting of a motion on self-determination and another to reprove the Monarchy, contrary to what was ordered by the Constitutional Court.
Although Torrent and his colleagues allege that they acted under the protection of parliamentary inviolability, which prevents criminal punishment of a deputy for the votes or debates of the Chamber, the restrictive interpretation of this right that the Supreme Court made with the former president of the Parliament Carme Forcadell leaves little margin maneuvering to defenses. The investigation of the case against Torrent and his former colleagues from the Table is not expected to be excessively long, given its lack of complexity. The eventual conviction would not carry in any case jail sentences, but disqualification, it would prevent Torrent from continuing to hold public office.
External expenses, in the court and the Court of Auditors
In October and November, it will be the turn of ex-minister Romeva and the other nine investigated for allegedly embezzling public funds in the internationalization of the sovereign process through the foreign network of the Generalitat. They will appear before the Barcelona judge who is investigating them for some expenses that are also included in the accounting case opened by the Court of Accounts, which must decide whether to accept the controversial bail guaranteed by the Government to the thirty former leaders and officials affected.
The judicial blows of 1-O for independentistas and police
Almost four years after the voting day, dozens of high-ranking officials and officials of the Generalitat prosecuted for the logistics of 1-O are still pending their future prison, as well as dozens of agents of the National Police and Civil Guard for injuring to voters in schools. In this course, the Prosecutor’s Office must file an accusation against ERC deputies Josep Maria Jové and Lluís Salvadó for their key role in the organization of 1-O, as well as against the current Minister of Culture, Natàlia Garriga. The three will be tried in the TSJC for their status as graduates, while the trial of the rest of the thirty defendants for the preparations for 1-O is expected to take longer due to the accumulation of views in the Hearing of Barcelona. And the Minister of Feminisms, Tània Verge, will know in autumn if the Audiencia of Barcelona confirms her acquittal for having been part of the Electoral Syndicate of 1-O.
Torra and Buch, awaiting trial
Although outside the front line and without a leading role in Catalan politics, the former president Quim Torra and the former Minister of the Interior Miquel Buch will sit on the bench in the coming months. The first in the second trial for not wanting to pick up a banner in favor of the procés prisoners in time and the second for masking the mosso who acted as an escort for former president Carles Puigdemont in Belgium as an adviser to the conselleria. The Prosecutor’s Office asks for a harsh prison sentence for Buch.
Trials for riots, CDR and Tsunami
The course that starts this September will also bring to trial numerous pro-independence protesters prosecuted for altercations after the judgment of the procés, whom the Department of the Interior has promised not to accuse of public disorder with the aim of not claiming penalties as harsh as those requested by the prosecution. In parallel, the investigation continues in Figueres against 200 people accused of cutting the highway called by Tsunami Democràtic, whose supposed leadership is being investigated by the National Court. The special court is also in the process of completing the investigation of the case against the CDRs accused of terrorism, despite the doubts shown by the judges themselves. The Prosecutor’s Office asks to prosecute them for terrorism.
The process in Europe
Before the end of the year, it is also expected that it will be known if the Supreme Court has definitively lost the options to obtain the extradition of Carles Puigdemont, who has been resisting him since 2017, which has earned him several blows from European courts. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) must rule on the preliminary questions sent by Judge Llarena and on whose answer the maintenance of the extradition requests to Belgium depends. It will take more months for another European ruling, that of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding those convicted of sedition, which the pro-independence supporters hope will once again entail an amendment to the entirety of the case followed in the Supreme Court. In fact, the Constitutional Court has yet to issue its judgments – the previous step to appeal to the ECHR – regarding leaders such as Oriol Junqueras or Carme Forcadell.
The Pujols, on trial
The National Court must set a trial date for the former president of the Generalitat, Jordi Pujol, his seven children and several businessmen accused of illicit association, tax fraud and money laundering for the family fortune hidden in Andorra for decades, which according to the family proceeds from a legacy of his grandfather but for the Prosecutor’s Office it derives from the corruption of the Pujol stage at the head of the Government. The Prosecutor’s Office asks for nine years in prison for the former president but the State Attorney does not accuse him.
Pending the indictment of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office is the 3% case of Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC). Some thirty businessmen and former senior officials of the party are being prosecuted by the National Court, among them the former manager and former minister Germà Gordó, for allegedly illegally financing the defunct nationalist formation with bites from businessmen in exchange for public works.
The return from vacation will also bring about the reactivation of the case against the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, for the splitting of contracts when she was in charge of the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes (ILC). The instruction was followed almost completely in the Supreme Court, but the case passed to the TSJC when Borràs left his seat in Congress to be included in the lists of Junts in the elections to Parliament last February.
Autumn will bring new pages to the summary of the Voloh case, the macrocause that the Court of Instruction 1 of Barcelona follows and that investigates the financing of Puigdemont’s stay in Waterloo, the alleged Russian plot of the procés and corruption crimes related to business activities former ERC minister Xavier Vendrell and former convergent David Madí.