08.05.2017 - 16:09
Actualització: 08.05.2017 - 16:13
The President of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, and her First Secretary, Anna Simó, have been summoned before the High Court this Monday for allowing a debate on independence plans in the Catalan Parliament. The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, members of the Catalan Executive and Parliament as well as representatives of numerous civil organizations and mayors of Catalan towns accompanied the two elected representatives to the High Court in Barcelona. Big crowds of citizens also demonstrated in front of the Court under the motto “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Forcadell says the case against her and the rest of the Parliament Bureau is unprecedented and endangers “free debate in Parliament”.
This is the second time Forcadell faces Court as President of the Catalan Parliament. On 16 December 2016 she was called before the judge for having allowed a vote on the conclusions of the constituent process commission, in which different parliamentary groups had participated. Back then, her cause received the support of Catalan elected representatives, and thousands of citizens, who accompanied Forcadell to the High Court, as well as of numerous international politicians and elected representatives.
On this occasion the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Òmnium Cultural and associations of municipalities in favor of independence (AMI, AMC) called upon citizens to once again show their support in a demonstration at 8:30am in front of the High Court in Barcelona. Under the motto “you will never walk alone”, Forcadell and her secretary, Anna Simó, left the Parliament and make their way to the courthouse accompanied by Carles Puigdemont, members of the Catalan Government and Parliament as well as numerous mayors and representatives of civil organizations. Former Catalan president Artur Mas and his former minister of education, Irene Rigau, as well as former member of the Spanish Congress Francesc Homs, all three convicted for their roles in the 9-N non-binding vote, also took part in the support demonstration.
The case against Forcadell
Carme Forcadell is accused of disobedience for not stopping a discussion on the independence plans, which was suspended by the Constitutional Court after a Spanish government complaint. She is summoned together with four members of the Catalan Parliament Bureau: Anna Simó, Lluís Corominas, Ramona Barrufet and Joan Josep Nuet. While Simó, from the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), testified on May 8, the same day as Forcadell, Corominas and Ramona Barrufet, MPs from the liberal PDeCAT party, will face the court on May 12.
The Third Secretary of the Bureau, Joan Josep Nuet, will receive the support of civil society and representatives when called before the High Court on 12 June. After the highly controversial decision of the State Prosecutor not to investigate the CSQP (Catalonia Yes We Can) deputy, because he is not in favor of independence, the High Court finally filed also charges against Nuet.
Forcadell and the investigated members of her Bureau will base their defense on the principle of parliamentary immunity. According to parliamentary sources, this principle is enshrined in the Parliament’s regulations and also in the Statute of the Autonomy of Catalonia to guarantee representatives’ the right to debate and not be held accountable for the votes and opinions expressed while exercising their obligations.
Forcadell characterized the Spanish government’s action as “precautionary”, using legal measures to prevent the “debate of ideas in Parliament”. “I don’t know of any Parliament in which representatives face criminal prosecution for debating.” “The immunity of elected representatives is precisely what needs legal protection. So it should be the other way around, the courts should protect us so we can fulfil our obligations,” Forcadell argued. Her secretary, Anna Simó, added that the Parliament Bureau activity is protected by international law.
The President of the Catalan Parliament also mentioned the support letter signed by members of the British Parliament urging the Spanish government to dismiss the case against Forcadell and her Bureau. Forcadell said that this letter shows how exceptional the situation is: “For parliamentary representatives of other European chambers, it’s very difficult to understand that a Parliament can be told what to discuss and what they cannot.”