A Barcelona court has today sent 30 people to trial for their roles in the organization of the Catalan independence referendum on October 1st 2017. After a long investigation, the judge of Barcelona's Court number 13, Alejandra Gil, has closed this initial stage in the case and sent it on to the Barcelona Audience which will hear the trial.
In the one-page resolution published this Thursday, the judge indicts a long list of senior Catalan government officials, the top leadership of the Catalan public broadcasting corporation CCMA, and businesspeople from some private companies such as the mail firm Unipost. The offences of which these 30 people are accused include misuse of public funds, disobedience, forgery, disclosure of secrets and malfeasance. However, graver offences such as rebellion and sedition are not included in the accusations.
The vast majority of those sent to trial held positions in the administration of the Catalan government at the time of the 2017 referendum, held by the Catalan government in defiance of Mariano Rajoy's Spanish administration. Those indicted include Antoni Molons, secretary of broadcasting and citizen assistance at the Catalan presidency department; Joaquim Nin, secretary general at the Catalan presidency department; Josep Ginesta, secretary general at the Catalan work, social affairs and family ministry; Aleix Villatoro, secretary general at the international actions, institutional relations and transparency ministry; Amadeu Altafaj, director of the Catalan government's delegation to the European Union; Albert Royo, secretary general of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat).
The top public broadcasting officials sent to trial are Núria Llorach, vice-president of the Catalan Audiovisual Media Corporation (CCMA); Vicent Sanchis, director of Catalan television station TV3, and Saül Gordillo, director of Catalunya Ràdio.
Court ignores the prosecutors
Long though the investigation has been - it began before the holding of the 2017 referendum, and passed into the hand of judge Gil after the original magistrate died - it could have been longer if prosecutors had had their way. On August 4th, public prosecutors asked the court to extend the investigation of the case for another 12 months, as there were still appeals pending, and warned that "breaches of the fundamental right to effective judicial protection could be committed". The prosecutors had appealed the court's original indictment document requesting that 28 of the accused be also indicted for criminal organization.
In that indictment order, the judge found evidence that the accused had a “common plan” and that there was a firm intention by the Catalan government to push forward with the 1st October referendum. In addition, he says, they wanted to hold a referendum, which had been rehearsed in the November 2014 unofficial consultation, "in order to exercise the right to self-determination and the constitution of a new state, independent of Spain, and which has its process of materialization through the referendum of 1st October 2017 and its corollary in the declaration of independence made by the president of Catalonia on 27th October in Parliament ".