Court admits case against Catalan minister for ballot box purchase

20.06.2017 - 22:07

A Catalan government minister is to end up in court for buying ballot boxes. Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) notified the Catalan Minister for Public Administrations Meritxell Borràs that it has admitted the complaint filed against her for the purchase of ballot boxes for use in the October 1 referendum. This is the latest in a series of court cases against pro-independence officials, following the prosecution of the Catalan Parliament President Carme Forcadell and former Catalan President Artur Mas, who was banned from office for organizing a symbolic vote on independence in 2014. “We will keep going forward,” said the spokeswoman of the executive, Neus Munté, after the legal challenge against the purchase of the ballot boxes was confirmed.

A High Court representative went to the Catalan Government headquarters in Barcelona on Tuesday during the weekly Executive Council meeting to personally notify the Catalan minister of the complaint. Borràs signed the required documents along with the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, Vice President Oriol Junqueras, and the rest of the executive’s members. Catalonia’s public prosecutor presented the complaint against Borràs and her former number two, Francesc Esteve, on May 16, following orders from Spanish Public Prosecutor José Manuel Maza.

Two companies are bidding to supply the 8,000 ballot boxes needed for the independence referendum. Each of them has made an offer to the government, which now has to take a decision. The interested companies had to submit a tender to be approved and present their offer to supply the ballot boxes. However, as the judicial complaint had already been presented, the contracting board overseeing the process decided to include four members of the government rather than civil servants so as to avoid putting public workers at risk.

Enough evidence  
Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) said that it has “enough evidence” to open the case against Meritxell Borràs, following the two complaints filed by the prosecution. The first came after the government announced its intention to buy ballot boxes, and the second following the Catalan president’s confirmation of the October 1 referendum.The TSJC justified its decision by arguing that the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) had already admitted an appeal from the Spanish government against the budget allocations for the referendum, which it  suspended. It also stated that the Catalan government’s members were warned about the suspension of these budget lines and reminded of their “duty to stop or paralyze any initiative that meant ignoring or avoiding the agreed suspension.” The prosecutor’s complaint alleges that after the warning both Borràs and Esteve adopted “measures addressed at obtaining the means required to be able to hold” the referendum.

The Catalan government spokeswoman, Neus Munté, insisted that the purchase of ballot boxes will go ahead as planned despite the court case against it. Munté said that the executive is confident that the process is “legal”. In fact, the spokeswoman questioned the “legal basis” of the case against the government and criticized the Spanish executive for trying to “threaten” the bidding companies. “We are not afraid,” Andreu Marqués, head of projects of Plastic Express, one of the two firms involved told CNA. The Spanish government has vowed to stop the referendum at all costs.


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