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21 de set. 2017

Repression of Election Board

Josep Maria Jové and the members of the [Catalan] Election Board are to be fined €12,000 per day by Constitutional Court

The high court takes the decision unanimously and basing their ruling on the controversial reform of the organic law

***** Click underneath on "Més informació" for Ernesto Ekaizer's article (translated by me) *****

21 September 2017   Updated 9/21/2017 2:29 PM

The Constitutional Court has agreed to fine the 27 members of the Catalan Electoral Office, created - to ensure the smooth running of the referendum on October 1 - during the endless plenary in the Catalan Parliament on 6 September. In the ordinary plenary held on Thursday, the Constitutional Court decided to punish with fines - of up to €12,000 euros per day - the five members of the Central Electoral Office, due to non-compliance with the express prohibition of Constitutional Court to appoint local or county board members. The provincial members of the new body get €6,000 daily fines. As the ARA informed earlier [ see below], the high court also fines the Secretary General of Economy, Josep Maria Jové, arrested on Wednesday by the Civil Guard in the macro-operation against different institutions of the Generalitat. Montserrat Vidal, the head of electoral processes of the Vice-president's Department, also detained, has been given a €6,000 daily fine.

The decision of the Constitutional Court does not force those affected to deposit the money immediately, for they can escape this if they give up the functions that they undertake in the organization of the referendum. Now they have 24 hours to make their decision known to the Constitutional Court. If they decide to continue linked to 1-O [the referendum], they will have to start paying after 24 hours. If they do not do so, embargoes will be made.

The intention of the court is that the board members and the rest of the officials will relinquish their duties after the Spanish police coup in Wednesday's operation, which has "altered" the referendum machinery, as Vice President Oriol Junqueras has admitted. In addition, the Constitutional Court has resolved to send the conduct to the public prosecutor's office to investigate whether an offence has been committed.

The High Court has retained the unanimity with which it had ruled in the last resolutions on 1-O: this was one of the questions that was in doubt. On this occasion and for the first time, the magistrates have had to ground their reasoning on the reform of the Constitutional Court organic law to agree to impose sanctions. When voting this change of the law, which received a warning from the Venice Commission, there was a division between the Court's twelve 12 members. Even so, three of the magistrates will write a concurrent vote to express their position in the face of this coercive measure.

As ARA explained, the magistrates tried to reach a unanimous agreement late into the evening to make that decision. Finally, this has been the case and the discrepancies over the power to impose fines that was granted to the Court in article 92.4 of the law have been solved. The judges have therefore accepted the petition for implementing a decision that was made by the State's lawyers at the request of Mariano Rajoy's government.

Two members have not received the request

Sources of the Sindicatura have told ARA that two of its members have not yet received the requirement calling them to appear before the Constitutional Court within 48 hours. One did receive it on Saturday, while the remaining two were notified on Tuesday. All three have done so and have explained their functions linked to the referendum. 


Unanimity in the Constitutional Court on punishing the Sindicatura 

"At yesterday's meeting there was no consensus on the application of fines as punishment or a sanction of members of the Electoral Office" 
September 20 2017  Updated 9/21/2017 10:19

The twelve members of the Constitutional Court (CC) sought last night to reach an unanimous agreement to  approve, at the plenary that will continue today, the fines for the twenty-seven members of the [Catalan] Electoral Office. It must be remembered that in the new incident of execution of sentence presented by the lawyer of the State already proposed fines for Josep Maria Jové and others arrested yesterday. Legal sources confirmed to the ARA that there will probably be unanimity. But at the meeting yesterday morning there was no consensus on the application of fines as punishment or sanction, an instrument provided in article 92.4 of the Constitutional Court law. Nor was there agreement as the amount to be applied - €10,000 or €15,000 per day - as a result of the non-compliance by the five members of the Electoral Office of the express prohibition issued by the Constitutional Court to appoint local or regional members.

Writing of recusal 

The members of the Sindicatura - a body equivalent to the election board - presented a letter of appeal against the twelve
Constitutional Court judges - in the same strategy line that was followed by the President of Parliament, Carme Forcadell. In this paper they brought together the issue of criminal prejudice, a matter of unconstitutionality and other arguments. The court will have to resolve these prior questions before moving on to deciding the fines and, according to sources consulted, they are considered obstacles to delay the procedure.

To date, all
Constitutional Court resolutions have been adopted unanimously, but the fines mean reviving a debate that already took place when the Generalitat submitted an appeal of unconstitutionality to the reform of the Constitutional Court Law.

Three magistrates, two of whom are still in the
Constitutional Court - Fernando Valdés and Juan Antonio Xiol -, voted in 2016 against the Constitutional Court's power to punish with fines, and suspend, public authorities and employees. The fines are intended to deter the members of the Electoral Office to leave office before punishing them. According to other sources, the fact that the decision was postponed could be related to the intention of avoiding coinciding with the Spanish police's macro-operation.

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