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Green light, no objection. The prosecutors in charge of the Catalan independence case centred on foreign promotion of the independence process, over which former officials in the governments of Artur Mas and Carles Puigdemont are charged - over public spending on promotion, granting subsidies and commissioning studies, which add up to nearly one million euros between 2012 and in 2017- will not appeal against the decision by the judge of Barcelona court number 18 to send the entire case to another court, number 13, which is investigating the organization of the 1st October referendum, the spokesperson for the Barcelona public prosecutors had told this Wednesday. Last month, the more senior Barcelona Audience court had already ruled in favour of the joining of the cases for two defendants - Albert Royo, ex-secretary general of Catalonia's Diplocat foreign delegations, and the ex-secretary of foreign affairs, Aleix Villatoro - who were being investigated in two courts for related actions. Thus, with that precedent, judge Carmen García has now decided to send the entire foreign affairs case over to that of the 2017 referendum organization, which began first. This means that seven ex-officials from the Catalan government now join about 30 others investigated over the 1-O referendum, since Royo, Villatoro and Teresa Prohías were the only ones investigated in the two courts.

The judge of court number 13, Alejandra Gil, who initially refused the accumulation of the cases, will have to decide if she accepts everything, or only the spending attributed to Royo and Villatoro, which make up the majority of the expenses on which the case rests. Whatever she decides will involve new proceedings and a further delay to the trial date, despite the fact that the foreign affairs investigation was almost completed. Royo, for example, agreed not to testify in court 18 until the case combination issue was decided - a question which has taken more than three years to resolve.

In a hearing in the Barcelona Audience, the public prosecutors and state solicitor argued that the two cases should not be combined because different criminal acts were investigated: in court 13, there are 27 people being prosecuted for the preparations for the referendum, while in court 18, ten people are being investigated for "broader actions", they argued, such as an alleged splitting of subsidies and "violating public procurement regulations" between the years 2013 and 2017. On the other hand, Royo's lawyer, Judit Gené, asserted that he was harmed by there being two separate proceedings, while Villatoro's lawyer, Ramon Setó, criticized the action of the prosecution service because it denounced the foreign affairs spending, after the court 13 judge had completed the referendum investigation, in addition to the fact that this spending was based on the report of the Court of Accounts, already incorporated.

Romeva and six others investigated

Thus, the person who is now certain to be included in the proceedings of court 13 is former Catalan foreign minister Raül Romeva, because he approved a single grant of 40,000 euros to the Federation of Internationally Recognized Catalan Organizations (FOCIR) in 2016 along with Villatoro. The rest of the defendants are from the Artur Mas government, which governed until 2016: Roger Albinyana, Víctor Cullell, Roser Clavell, Gerard Martí Figueras, Manuel José Vila and Antoni Reig.

The Homs case, pending

At the same time, in the foreign affairs case, the judge separated off the part of the investigation into ex-minister Francesc Homs, which she had initially closed after finding no criminal actions, but the Barcelona Audience reopened. In particular, he is investigated for having authorized three expenses, totaling around 58,000 euros, in 2012: for a global meeting of Catalan communities, a study and a grant to the Fundació Catalanista i Demòcrata. It is expected that his defence will soon ask for the closing of the case again.