The Barcelona judges association Ágora Judicial has released a statement heavily criticising the "deplorable precedent" represented by the veto of Supreme Court judge Manuel Marchena on witness testimonies in the Catalan language. Specifically, the association refers to the judge's threat alleging possible "legal consequences" against a witness if he did not change from Catalan to Spanish in his testimony to the Catalan independence trial. Faced with this situation, the witness switched languages to continue his declaration.
The Barcelona judges, furthermore, point out that, contrary to judge Marchena's threat, no criminal measures could be taken against the witness since the regulation states that "every person who takes part in judicial proceedings carried out in Catalonia has the right to use the official language that he or she chooses in his or her oral or written statements". They also quote the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which states that anyone who has to declare before a court must be able to express themselves "in their regional or minority language without incurring additional expenses". In Spain, the Spanish language is an official language in the entire state, while Catalan, Basque and Galician have co-official status in the major areas where they are spoken.
Ágora Judicial asserts that the legal references to the territory of the co-official language "must be extended when relating to, as in this case, a trial held in the first instance in Madrid and before a judicial body with jurisdiction that extends over the whole State". They also allege that if a witness cannot declare in his own language, it becomes impossible for him to provide "an easy, authentic and spontaneous testimony", since, even if he can speak Spanish, "he will not express himself with the same facility, as he will be forced to translate mentally."
"Procedural rigidity or arguments obliging a change of language are not justified since they establish a deplorable precedent and damage the image of the objectivity and impartiality of justice, which is necessary in order for people to have confidence in the actions of the high court", the statement concludes.