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Spain's Supreme Court says the date of September 17th has been set to hear Catalan president Quim Torra's appeal against the 2019 conviction he received for disobedience after he had failed to remove a "Freedom for political prisoners" banner from the balcony of the government palace. 

Today's announcement of a date for the court to resolve the Catalan president's appeal has been keenly awaited for its possible effects on Catalan and Spanish politics. A decision to uphold the sentence banning Torra from holding public office for 18 months would remove him from the presidency of Catalonia, and could precipitate Catalan elections, as well as having uncertain effects on the Spain-Catalonia dialogue table and the delicate situation of the Spanish coalition government.

If there are no last-minute problems, such as further Covid-19 measures, the Catalan president's appeal will be heard at the Supreme Court in Madrid on 17th September, in a one-day public session. The court would be expected to rule on the appeal within a few days.

Who decided the date?

However, today's announcement may have introduced a new incident into the hearing of the case. The judge nominated to act as the reporting judge for the case, Miguel Colmenero, had asked to be excused and no replacement had been named. Given that the decisions on the preocedure for the case are in the hands of this reporting judge, the Supreme Court's announcement that the hearing will "predictably" take place on September 17th seems premature.

The Catalan president's lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, responded to the Court's decision in a tweet. Boye wonders how this announcement can be made when "it is not clear who the reporting judge will be" and, therefore, how the Supreme Court can know that the appeal will be admitted for processing.

"Well, well... but if it is not yet clear who the reporting judge will be, how do you know that the appeal will be admitted for hearing and can therefore put a date on it?" - Gonzalo Boye

On December 19th last year, Quim Torra was sentenced by the Catalonia High Court (TSJC) to a year and a half of disqualification from office holding and the payment of a fine of 30,000 euros for disobedience as a result of his refusal to remove a banner and yellow ribbons from the façade of the Generalitat palace as ordered by the Central Electoral Board in the spring 2019 election campaign. 

His action occurred in the context of the Spanish state's jailing of political and civil pro-independence leaders following the 2017 Catalan referendum on independence from Spain.  

Torra's appeal argues that he has been the victim of political persecution.

 

 

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