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Unusual. The president of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, has informed the judge of Barcelona court No 29 who is investigating the Pegasus-spyware espionage against the Catalan politician that he is asking the court clerk in the case - the judicial official responsible for its adminstrative management and veracity - to step aside. Why? Because he has learned that the official is Montserrat del Toro, a protected witness who gave key testimony in the Supreme Court trial against the 12 Catalan pro-independence leaders over the 2017 independence process and referendum. In the letter, to which has had access this Monday, Andreu van den Eynde, lawyer for Aragonès, states that the court official "has demonstrated in a more than public way her personal positioning against the interests and political options that [the president] defends which are the precise reason why the crime under investigation was committed". He adds that if the judicial secretary does not leave the case, Aragonès will file a recusal demand.

The submission to the court states that Del Toro was the official who signed off initial proceedings in the case in 2023, and that most of the documents in the Pegasus case “were not signed off by her”. President Aragonès's legal team found out that it was her when she signed a document certifying the loss of an expert report on the infection that Aragonès suffered on his mobile when he was Catalan vice president, which took place over at least three days in February 2020.

Hidden in the case?

The text also highlights that Del Toro did not attend Aragonès's court testimony on December 13th last year, when he ratified the complaint and when clerk was temporarily substituted by another official. The judge in the Aragonès case is the only one investigating the Catalan independence movement Pegasus cases who has cited the former director of the Spain's National Intelligence Centre (CNI), Paz Esteban, whose hearing was adjourned until the end of this January.

Exit through movie theatre

The Supreme Court gave protected witness status to Montserrat del Toro, and she was a key witness in the accusations against Catalan politicians. In the Supreme Court trial, most of which was shown on television, her image was kept off-screen, and in her evidence she explained in a dramatic way that she had been very much afraid due to the massive protest that took place outside the headquarters of the Catalan economy ministry, while she and a Civil Guard squad, by order of Barcelona court No 13, searched the premises to attempt to find the ballot boxes and spending details of the 1st October referendum. Also, she told the court how Mossos d'Esquadra police officers made her leave through a back exit: climbing over a small wall on the rooftop terrace to leave through the next building, a movie theatre, despite the fact that she was not publically well-known. Currently, there are several people under prosecution for having disseminated the image and personal details of the court officer, who is now back in the news.

Against Catalan independence

The submission presented to the court specifies that in the case that is still being investigated at Barcelona court No 13 over the referendum of October 1st, 2017 and surrounding events, a document with a screenshot from the Facebook profile of Del Toro, in which she referred to the pro-independence politicians as "destroyers", in support of a publication by the anti-independence political party Ciudadanos. And it concludes: "Obviously the challenged court clerk is free to express her ideology and even more so to profess it, but the truth is that her action positions her as a prominent enemy of all the values represented by [President Aragonès] and, specifically, affects her appearance of impartiality." And, because of all this, the president of the Generalitat demands that she depart from the hearing of the Pegasus case.


In the main photo, president Aragonès on the day he testified in court as a person affected by the Pegasus case. / Photo: Pau de la Calle